H-VANDENBERG AFB

Oct 5, 2011 9:39 PM by Ariel Wesler

Fallen Vandenberg airman remembered one year later

It was one year ago Wednesday that Vandenberg Air Force Base lost one of its own to the war in Afghanistan. Dan Johnson, 23, was killed by an improvised explosive device. Johnson is the only Vandenberg airman who has died in Afghanistan.

October 5th 2010 is a day etched in Kristen Johnson's memory.

"It feels like 5 years some days. It feels like 5 weeks some days," Johnson said. "I don't think it ever gets any easier."

She lost her husband just four months after marrying him.

"I still have his pictures everywhere. Just looking at his smile and the person that he was just makes me want to be a better person," she said.

Senior Airman Dan Johnson was part of Vandenberg's Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit, a bomb squad of sorts to protect fellow troops on the ground.

A year after his death, fellow airman in his own squadron are now building a monument in his memory.

"It's an opportunity for them to not only get some training in, but to do something to help one of their brother squadron members," said Lt. Col. Matt Joganich with the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Inspired by the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., the wall will bear his name in brass letters and the EOD badge. You'll be able to see it from both sides of the street.

"It wasn't just the EOD flight or the civil engineer squadron that felt it, it was the entire wing," Joganich said.

A labor of love and a permanent reminder of the personal cost of war.

Construction will wrap up in a little more than a month. The monument will be dedicated on Veteran's Day in front of Dan Johnson's family and friends.

Vandenberg leaders say they hope they won't have to add any more names to the wall.

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