Vermont National Guard soldier dies in Iraq

01/26/06 12:00AM By Lynne McCrea
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(Host) Another Vermont National Guard soldier has died while serving in Iraq. Adjutant General Martha Rainville announced today that Sergeant Joshua Johnson died yesterday while on a mission in an area just west of Ramadi.

VPR's Lynne McCrea reports:

(McCrea) 24-year-old Sergeant Joshua Johnson was a team leader with Alpha Company 3 of the172nd Infantry Battalion. He had been deployed with Task Force Saber since January last year.

A very somber General Martha Rainville described Johnson as an experienced combat soldier who had spent several years in the U.S. Army before joining the Green Mountain Boys in 2003.

Rainville said Sergeant Johnson died of wounds he sustained when his Humvee was hit by an RPG rocket propelled grenade. Three other soldiers were in the armored vehicle. They were not injured.

(Rainville) "This was a case of the armor in the Humvee doing its job for the other 3 occupants of the Humvee. Sergeant Johnson was sitting in the right front seat the RPG hit directly on the windshield in front of him, causing head and neck injuries that eventually proved fatal."

(McCrea) Rainville said Sergeant Johnson was riding with the most protective and latest armor available in Humvees. He was also wearing a full complement' of protective gear including ballistic glasses.

Rainville said her message to the families of Task Force Saber remains the same.

(Rainville) "Stand firm. Stand together. Their soldiers are well trained, they have every piece of safety gear to help them with their mission. While there is no guarantee, they are safer than they were. Try to concentrate on support for their soldier one day at a time, and we will get thru this and we will get this task force home."

(McCrea) Sergeant Joshua Johnson grew up in Richford. He leaves his parents, Kevin and Laura Royea, and his grandparents Harold and Phyllis Johnson, also of Richford.

(Host) Family members say that Sergeant Johnson worked hard to be a good soldier and that he loved his family.

His death is the 20th in Iraq of an American servicemen with ties to Vermont.

A 21st Vermonter died of natural causes in Kuwait while training to go to Iraq.

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