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Father joins son in Iraq

Regina Purcell
Belinda Grant/Tribune News Service Richard Johnson is deploying this week for overseas. He will be joining his son in the Middle East.
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GARDNERVILLE – A Carson Valley father will reunite with his oldest son this weekend. In wartime, the reunion isn’t at home but 7,000 miles away in Uzbekistan located in central Asia, north of Afganistan.

Richard Johnson, 42, and son 21-year-old Benjamin, of Gardnerville are also in the Nevada Air National Guard. Richard is an aircraft electrician on C130 planes – the same kind used for firefighting efforts in the West.

Ben works aerial port, loading airplanes with cargo, driving forklifts, tractors and loading ammunition into attack A C130s.

Assigned to the same unit, the 152nd Aerial Port Squadron, out of Reno, the Johnson’s are living with 600 others on a former Russian base in Uzbekistan.

Ben left in January and Richard is starting his second tour overseas. He was in Qatar over Thanksgiving last year, and served in Iraq and Kuwait.

“I’ve been getting lonely and missing my family a great deal,” Ben said via e-mail. “Come to find out, my dad will be joining me here.”

They leave behind Lolita, Richard’s wife and sweetheart since junior high school, and sons, D’Artagnani, 19, who attends University of Nevada, Reno, and Bradley, 16, a student at Douglas High School. Bradley is hoping for an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

“It’s been pretty hard on my wife,” Richard said. “She’s hating this, naturally. She would rather we both didn’t go.

“But she sees the big picture. There isn’t another country that could build Iraq back up, like America.”

While they are family, father and son have separate responsibilities.

“I can’t be a father out there,” Richard said. “Ben will always be my son but he has other commanders and I’m not one of them. Of course, I will probably tell him not to smoke.”

Ben was eager to see his father.

“Like father, like son, we’re both here, together, fighting for truth, justice, and the American way,” he said.

Richard said the people in the war zone so many miles away are “overjoyed” with America’s assistance.

“They want a free country,” he said, “and they can see it coming.”

As for the danger, father is pragmatic.

“This is a war,” he said. “Comparitively, we have many more people killed in the United State during daily life.”


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