HOBE SOUND, Fla. - An Army sergeant from Hobe Sound was one of four U.S. soldiers killed Tuesday during an attack at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, according to his mother.
Sgt. Justin Johnson, a 25-year-old 2006 South Fork High School graduate, was serving his third tour of duty, said Johnson's mother, Sonia Randolph of Hobe Sound. Randolph said two officers visited the family after midnight on Tuesday, and notified them of Johnson's death.
"I knew from the solemn looks on their faces that it wasn't what I wanted to hear," Randolph said, fighting back tears. "From what I can understand, (Johnson) was situated at a bus stop. It was a large (military) base. Mortar came through, and he had a direct hit from the mortar."
Randolph said Johnson had been stationed at Fort Eustis in Virginia as a sergeant with the transportation battalion. He had served a tour in Haiti and Iraq before this Afghanistan tour began in December.
"I am just thankful that he chose the path that he did," said Randolph. "He didn't stray from what he believed in. His mind was made up on what he wanted to do to make our country a better place. Serving in the military was something that he really held dear to his heart."
Sgt. Justin Johnson, photo provided.
She said it was almost as if he had a premonition before he went to Afghanistan that he might not return.
"It's kind of funny now that I look back on it," said Randolph. "He said, 'Mom, these are the things that will happen if something were to happen to me.' He kind of walked me through step by step, and we had never had that kind of conversation before. It kind of gives me solace that he knew what he was going into, but he wasn't afraid."
Randolph said Johnson was a father of a 4-year-old little boy who carries his name on as Junior. She said Johnson joined the Army immediately after he graduated high school at the age of 18.
Randolph said the military will fly her to Dover, Delaware on Thursday to receive Johnson's body.
"I'm just blessed that he was happy and willing to do what he needed to do for his country," said Randolph. "I'm a little heavy at heart, but I'm just proud."