ROME, GA, USA U.S. Army SPC, HHB, 1ST BATTALION / 82D FIELD ARTILLERY (1ST CAV), FORT HOOD, TX 76544 BAGHDAD, IRAQ 04/10/2004
With ceremonial flourishes honoring his military service and an emotional outpouring from family and friends, a Georgia man killed in Iraq was buried Saturday. In Rome, a crowd waving U.S. flags lined the street as Johnson’s funeral procession passed.
A Floyd County native, Johnson, 22, was killed in Baghdad on April 10 when a roadside bomb detonated as the Humvee on which he served as a gunner passed.
“Justin volunteered to serve,” said Brig. Gen. Thomas Bostick, assistant commander of Johnson’s unit, the 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, according to the Rome News-Tribune. “He didn’t come in as a warmonger. He went for an ideal — freedom and security.”
The Reverend Kenneth Jennings, a former pastor of Johnson’s, urged his family to take comfort in knowing that his death was not in vain.
“Freedom is expensive,” Jennings said. “Thank God for men and women who are willing to pay this sacrifice so we can be free.”
Johnson had been in Iraq for just over a week.
From Justin’s mom Jan:
A little bit about Justin…he was a soldier’s soldier according to his commander. Growing up if there was something to do that was outside and would give you a thrill, he was in. By 16 he had already made his first parachute jump and was an avid caver. By 18 he was a certified scuba diver.
He was a hunter too, bow, black powder, rifle…it didn’t matter. He followed in his Dad’s footsteps becoming a forward observer. He joined right after 9/11, his brother joined the Army in Nov. 2002 and his Dad rejoined, this time the Georgia National Guard, in May 2003.
Justin was born a Navy brat, my twin’s were Army brats. Justin was the baby of our kids. As you can see in this picture, he never smiled, he smirked. There are a couple pictures out there where he is smiling, but very, very few. He was known for that little lopsided smirk. He had the prettiest blue eyes and was always the life of the party. Talking with his guys who served with him let me know that he had become more serious after joining the military when it was necessary but when he was off, it was party time.
He led life to the fullest and even though he was only 22 when we lost him, he was a old 22. You know people say that certain people were old souls…that was him. It was like he knew he didn’t have long on this earth and wanted to squeeze every moment out of that time. Family meant a lot to him. I had one granddaughter, Jordan, who was born in Aug. 2001. She belongs to my daughter. Anyway, Justin thought that Jordan hung the moon and stars. We have one picture taken of him and her together, in their DCU’s.