Family of Phoenix soldier killed in Afghanistan talks

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PHOENIX – Another Phoenix soldier has died while serving his country.

The Department of Defense says Pfc. John C. Johnson was killed in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan Friday.

Johnson, who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.

The Phoenix soldier was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32ND Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10Th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Johnson had been in the Army for less than two years. He joined in February 2010. Five months later he was assigned to Fort Drum after completing training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and Fort Benning, Ga. He deployed with his unit in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in March 2011.

Johnson went to elementary school in the Valley and high school in Wickenburg. Family and friends created a small memorial in the front yard of his mom's home in Phoenix.

Johnson was Vicki Dryer's only son. She calls him a hero for protecting our freedoms. But her son is not her only hero.

"God bless all the ones that are still there and all the families that are waiting for their loved ones to come home and God be with them," she said.

"That boy, he wasn't a boy anymore, he was a man," said Johnson's father, John Johnson Sr. "He's my hero." 

According to the Fort Drum website, Johnson's awards and decorations include the Army, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Johnson, 28, leaves behind a wife, who is seven months pregnant and two children. His mother, father and six sisters also survive him.