by Allie Martin

In Tribute to:
PFC Howard Johnson II, 21, of Mobile, Alabama
Killed In Action, March 23, 2003
Operation Iraqi Freedom
507th Ordnance Maintenance Company, Fort Bliss, Texas

(AgapePress) An Alabama pastor and his wife are mourning the death of their son who was one of the 507th Maintenance Company soldiers ambushed and killed in Iraq.

Private First Class Howard Johnson, Jr., was among the first Americans killed in the war to liberate Iraq. He was one of the 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company soldiers ambushed and killed in March.

His dad, Pastor Howard Johnson, Sr., is pastor of Truevine Missionary Baptist Church in Prichard, Alabama. The pastor says while he believes the war in Iraq could have been settled in a different way, he has the assurance that his son is with his Lord and Savior.

Pastor Johnson says he talked with his son on the phone from Kuwait City days before the ambush.

"I never heard him any happier than he was then -- and he had a way that when he is excited about something, you could feel it and you could see it in him," Johnson says. "And even though I couldn't see his face physically, I could see it in the spirit as I listened to him on the phone. He was excited about treading on new ground that he had never experienced before."

Johnson says his son understood his duty to his country. "He accepted that he had to go," the grieving father says. "I don't remember if he said it was a 'mission' or a 'job,' but he said 'I have to do it -- and I'm ready to go and do it."

The 62-year-old pastor said he talked with his son about getting a right relationship with God and being sure about it. He says his son assured him that he had a relationship with Christ.

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