Friday, August 17, 2007

Christopher Johnson remembered

Former Grandville resident Mary Johnson had a sinking feeling when she went to bed Tuesday night.

Her son, Army Warrant Officer Christopher Johnson, 31, had assured her he would let her know he was OK if there was news of a helicopter crash in Iraq.

On Tuesday, Mary Johnson heard several soldiers were killed in the crash of a Chinook helicopter west of Baghdad, but her son didn't call. He didn't send an e-mail.

"I knew. I just knew," said Mary Johnson, who spent a restless night fearing the worst.

She got word Wednesday morning her son died in that crash.

"We don't know what happened," said Mary Johnson, a resident of New Mexico. "But I know that his biggest dream in life was to fly, and he attained that."

The Chinook went down near the Taqaddum air base in Iraq's Anbar province while conducting a routine post-maintenance check flight, according to an Army release.

All five crew members, which the Army described as "coalition force service members," were killed. The crash is under investigation.

Christopher Johnson, a 1994 graduate of Tri-Unity Christian High School in Wyoming, joined the Marines shortly after high school. His parents, Mary and Charles Johnson, moved about that time to New Mexico to teach at Rehoboth Christian School, a mission school founded by the Christian Reformed Church in 1903.

Johnson transferred to the Army two years later and served special forces duty in the Philippines and Kuwait, family members said. Two years ago, he got the opportunity to become a helicopter pilot and jumped at the chance.

Mary Johnson said her son told her Chinook duty would keep him in relative safety.

"He said, 'Mom, you don't have to worry. This is the safest,' " she said.

Charles Johnson said his son was thrilled when he qualified as a Chinook pilot.

"He loved flying the Chinook. He loved what he was doing. He was not afraid of going to Iraq."

Christopher Johnson and his wife, Vivian, were married in 2005, his wife bringing her three children to the marriage. Mary Johnson said her son was in the process of adopting her children, Victoria, 10; Jonathan, 7; and Dylan, 4.

From the Muskegon Chronicle

Related Link:
Christopher C. Johnson dies 'of injuries suffered when his helicopter crashed'