Granville Soldier Remembered as Helpful, Dependable
Posted June 14, 2007 7:16 p.m. EDT
Updated June 14, 2007 9:16 p.m. EDT
Oxford, N.C. — A soldier from Granville County is one of the latest causalities of the Iraq war.
Pvt. William Christopher Johnson, 22, died Tuesday in an explosion outside Baghdad. He leaves behind a pregnant wife and his adoptive parents.
Family and friends said they will always remember Johnson as someone who dedicated his life to helping others.
“He was always smiling, always had a kind work to say, always helpful,” said Cynthia Currin, a family friend. “This is just a tragic loss.”
Johnson had gone to Iraq in Fenbruary.
“It was an honor for him to serve in the military,” Currin said. “We all know that, and that is some comfort to everybody to know he served with honor.”
Service and honor were nothing new to Johnson, however. For years, he was an Antioch volunteer firefighter.
“Chris would go out of his way to do anything to help anybody, whether it’s in the fire department, community, his friends, or what. He was always there and one you could count on and depend on,” said Antioch Fire Chief William Morton Jr.
The fire department plans to pay tribute to Johnson, but they were working out the details Thursday.
“Anyone that from the age of 15 decides to come down to the local fire department and join, and then after that continue service and fight for the country, I’d call them a hero every day,” said Antioch Fire Capt. Clifton Peace.
Johnson’s family said they are doing their best to cope with the loss, Currin said.
“I know they’re looking forward to their new grandchild coming in October,” she said. “I guess that will help that void somewhat to know they have a little granddaughter on the way.”
Johnson had spokenwith his parents Monday, a day before he suffered fatal wounds when a bomb exploded in Baghdad.
"It was a regular conversation," said his father, Billy Johnson. "He said he just wanted to talk to us before he went to bed. He had a mission the following morning."
The military announced the death Wednesday, and his parents have received phone calls of condolence from across the country, even from strangers.
"Our family and friends mean well, but they can't bring him back," Billy Johnson said. "Nothing will."
The younger Johnson, who went by his middle name, was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.
His wife, Megan, lives in Kansas, where Johnson's unit is based.
Johnson graduated from J.F. Webb High School in Oxford in 2003 and joined the Army in September 2005. He joined his unit in February 2006 and was sent to Iraq this February for his first overseas deployment.