Monday, September 17, 2007

Rodney Johnson laid to rest

Spc. Rodney J. Johnson, although just a year removed from his teens, was a married man with a growing family.

His last letter from Iraq to his wife, Ashley, pregnant with their second child, included the words: "Know that in this time my love for you will grow stronger. Soon I'll be home and the void will be no longer."

The 20-year-old was remembered during a service at Berachah Church on Friday as a dedicated soldier. He died Sept. 4 in Baghdad, Iraq, when insurgents attacked his unit. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

Johnson attended Alief Hastings High School and shortly after met Ashley Cavazos in 2004. The couple were married in December 2005, a few months after he joined the Army. He was deployed to Iraq in February.

The couple has a 9-month old daughter, Ja'Aliyah Johnson, and Ashley is due to deliver their second child soon.

In the funeral bulletin, Johnson's wife wrote that their children "will know of how loving a father and husband you are. ... I wish we had more time together just to raise our children."

Johnson's father, a Houston police officer, said he'll focus on the family his son left behind.

When his son went off to war, Rodney E. Johnson said, he was prepared for the worst.

"I always wondered, 'When will I get my call?' " he said.

Johnson has another son, Spc. Andrew Whitson, serving a tour in Iraq. He was able to attend his brother's funeral.

"I'll just pray to get him back," the elder Johnson said.

At the burial site, flags slapped taut in the breeze Friday at the Houston National Cemetery where mourners gathered at Rodney J. Johnson's silver coffin.

The soldier's wife stared blankly as Brigadier Gen. Keith Thurgood kneeled before her with a folded flag. Two flags were also presented to Johnson's father and his mother, Charlotte Johnson.

Rodney J. Johnson also is survived by a sister, Maci S'Mar Johnson, and another brother, Markis Mitchell, of Houston.

From the Houston Chronicle

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Rodney Johnson remembered

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Rodney J. Johnson dies 'of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit'