Saturday, December 26, 2009

Army Spc. Jason M. Johnston

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Jason M. Johnston, 24, of Albion, N.Y.

Spc. Johnston was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died Dec. 26, 2009 in Arghandab, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

A small Orleans County village is mourning the loss of one of its own. Army soldier Jason Johnston, 24, of Albion was killed in Afghanistan Saturday.

The Department of Defense says Johnston was killed in southern Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device.

Johnston's parents left for Delaware to identify their son’s body. While they're gone, some are doing their best to honor Johnston here in his hometown.

"It's a family," said Albion Fire Chief Eric Bradshaw. "It's the true meaning of family."

Bradshaw said in many ways the Albion Fire Department is Johnston's family.

"Jason and his dad spent a lot of time in the fire house together," Bradshaw said.

Johnston's father Brad has been with the department for more than 15 years. His mother Jenny has volunteered for more than ten years. Johnston himself was in the youth explorer program.

"When he graduated high school, he went into the military and we sort of lost touch with him but he was a good kid very hard working the time that we shared down here at the fire house," said Bradshaw.

"I'm really close with the mother and we just hugged and talked a little bit about what was going on," said Albion Fire Department President Stanley Farone. "Just to let her know basically we're here for them."

Flags outside several businesses and at the firefighters memorial at the Mt. Albion Cemetery have been lowered to half staff, a sign of respect for Johnston and a show of support for his family.

"What we can do we're going to do," Farone said. "We're just trying to take some of the burden off them."

Johnston was never a full fledged member. Albion's fire chief says now he will be.

"We're very proud of the fact that he decided to go into the military," said Bradshaw. "We're going to honor Jason as best we can, and one of the things we can do is make him a full member here at the department. We're a family and we take care of our family."

Funeral arraignments have not been finalized. Johnston leaves behind three sisters, one of whom was also in the Albion Fire Department's Explorer Program.

Bradshaw said the department will help with any services the Johnston family requests.

Army Spc. Jason M. Johnston was killed in action on 12/26/09.

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