by William Kennard
On the front page of the Arizona Republic, a newspaper based in Phoenix Arizona, is a picture of a 14 foot high metal fence on the east side of Nogales, Arizona bordering the two countries.
The 74th Engineer Company (AFB,R) and elements of 62nd Engineer Battalion and 13th COSCOM from Fort Hood Texas were deployed in the spring of 1995 to assist the U.S. Border Patrol, under operation Joint Task Force 6, in putting up the green fence, sub-terrain-al engineer work and the creation of obstacles of reinforcing border security throughout Arizona. Out of the over 300 soldiers deployed we lost a special soldier by the name Omar C. Johnson, a mechanic assigned to Support Platoon within the 74th Engineer Company.
Omar was given the task of going to Fort Huachuca Arizona on a resupply fuel mission in a 5 ton military cargo vehicle. As he and two other soldiers were in the 5 ton traveling eastbound on State highway 82 they were cut off by a recreational vehicle as it made a u-turn in their path of travel. Two soldiers survived the crash and was taken to a hospital for their injuries. Omar was not that fortunate as he sustained fatal injuries in the accident as he was trapped in the cab of the vehicle as it had rolled over several times.
Omar left behind a beautiful young wife and a very young child. Omar was close to my heart as he was a good friend and also an excellent soldier. Omar was expected to depart the military under honor conditions and return to Atlanta, Georgia with his family. Throughout my travels of Arizona and Texas the memorials were kept up in his honor, a prayer was given, moment of silence and decorations.
A campaign to honor Specialist Omar Johnson in the nomination of a new city park. It is scheduled to be opened in the year 2012 and named the Omar Johnson Memorial Park in Peoria, Arizona.
Today the Arizona Republic published a photo of the memorial cross on the front page. The newspaper did not honor Omar Johnson but instead used the cross in a pro-immigration article.
“It is absurd and very unprofessional to neglect the life of a fallen soldier that was given in the sake of border security of this great nation”.
Written by: William E. Kennard, (Staff Sergeant U.S. Army retired) of Peoria, AZ. Since the publication he has contacted several reporters and news organizations immediately following this discovery. He is also encouraging the US military, national and state agencies and Fort Hood Officials in correcting some errors in relation to the outcome of the fatal accident. He and the widow a Ms. Kim Johnson remains close friends.