Father of slain Army soldier reflects back on his son’s life and legacy

Top Stories

TRUMANSBURG, N.Y. (WETM) Two soldiers died on Wednesday, one of them was from the Village of Trumansburg, in the middle of the Finger Lakes Region

His name is James Johnston. He had a desire to defend his nation just like his father and relatives before him. His Father, Richard Johnston, said James had love for his country, friends, and family, and was someone who would go out of his way to help others.

“He was an incredible man, he was a true patriot,” Richard said in a phone call with 18 News.

James was 24-years-old. He enlisted in the Army at the age of 18 after graduating from Trumansburg High School.

His service was cut short when he and his platoon were ambushed by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan. James was killed in the ensuing gunfight.

“Just total horror,” Richard said. “Your world just crashes, just literally crashes.”

James was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, in charge of dismantling and disposing explosives on the battlefield. Richard said he was more worried about James encountering IED’s than being in a gunfight.

“So to hear that he was killed in a gunfight was something that I would have never expected,” Richard said.

James and his wife, Krista Johnston, moved to Texas. The couple was expecting a child in November.

Krista posted on Facebook, “He is the love of my life and will forever be with me and his baby girl.” She also thanked friends for their support by wearing Hawaiian shirts, one of James’ favorite fashions.

James body is back on American soil. Now, his family, friends, community, and nation are remembering his life and legacy.

“Freedom isn’t free and we have to pay for it every day,” Richard said. “Everyday and the only people who are going to fight for our freedom are the men and women in uniform. Those are the true heroes.”

The second man killed in the ambush was 32-year-old Master Sergeant Micheal Riley.

Riley was also an explosive ordnance disposal specialist from Heilbronn, Germany.

The United State’s Department of Defense said the incident remains under investigation.

Richard said it is too early to say what the family will do in terms of funeral plans.

He added Vice President Mike Pence and the Army Chief of Staff reached out to them and expressed their condolences.

James’ father also asks everyone on July 4, to wear Hawaiian shirts for James, and to also commemorate all soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice. If you wear your Hawaiian shirt post to social media using  #HawaiianShirtsforJJ or #HawaiianShirtsForJames. Hawaiian shirts were his favorite thing to wear according to his Father.

You can support the family on their Facebook page by donating to their GoFundMe event.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.