Local News

Oct 13, 2010 10:33 PM by Ariel Wesler

Body of Vandenberg airman brought home

Hundreds gathered at Vandenberg Air Force Base to pay their respects to a fallen hero.

Two memorial services were held today to honor the life and service of 23-year-old Daniel Johnson. The senior airman from Vandenberg was killed October 5 by an improvised bomb while serving in Afghanistan as part of the bomb squad.

With flags at half staff, they lined the airfield at Vandenberg for a military memorial.

"Everyone across the base, not only the 30th Space Wing, but all the tenant organization have come together to pay tribute and honor," said Col. Richard Boltz.

The body of 23-year old Senior Airman Dan Johnson was brought back to the base with full military honors. He is the first member of the Vandenberg's bomb squad to be killed in action.

Johnson received an explosive salute for his service and sacrifice. Fellow airman say he died doing what he loved and told me in March, he never focused on the dangers.

"I never really thought about it. It just seemed like a cool job," Johnson had said.

He served as seven month tour of duty in Iraq in 2009 and was deployed to Afghanistan in August. He even risked his life to save an Afgan National Soldier.

For his service and dedication as a distinguished hero, Johnson has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, the Air Force Combat Action Medal, and the Purple Heart.

"Ocasionally, you have to think on the fly so you have to be good at improvising. Dan was all of those and he was excellent at what he did," said Technical Sgt. Johnathan Homer with the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit.

But despite the seriousness, Johnson was also a bit of a jokster.

"Stink bugs here or something. Put something in your body armour or fill your helmet full of water," Homer said.

They're memories to keep his spirit alive once the tears wash away.

Seven other servicemen were injured during the explosion, including the team leader from Vandenberg, who is recovering in a Maryland hospital.

Johnson just married his wife Kristen in June. He is also survived by his parents and three brothers.

A memorial fund has been set up in Johnson's honor. Contributions can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank.

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