Nation & World

Baghdad blast kills soldier from Oxford

A soldier with roots in North Carolina was killed overseas while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.

Pvt. William C. Johnson, 22, of Oxford, died of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device Tuesday in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan.

His wife, Megan, who is living in Kansas where Johnson's unit is based, is expecting their first child in the fall.

A 2003 graduate of J.F. Webb High School in Oxford, Johnson joined the Army in September 2005. He joined his unit in February 2006.

He was deployed with his unit to Iraq in February. It was his first overseas deployment.

Johnson always saw himself serving his country in some way, his father, Billy Johnson, said Wednesday.

"He always talked about going into the military," Billy Johnson said. "To him, it just felt like something he needed to do."

Billy Johnson said his son -- referred to as Chris or Christopher, his middle name -- was a kindhearted individual who went out of his way to help others.

"He'd do anything for you -- if he liked you," Billy Johnson said.

His last call home was Monday. It had been several nerve-wracking weeks since they had heard from him.

"It was a regular conversation," Johnson said. "He said he just wanted to talk to us before he went to bed. He had a mission the following morning."

The death of their only child has hit Billy Johnson and his wife, Rhonda, very hard. He said they have received phone calls from family, friends and strangers from across the country seeking to comfort them.

"Our family and friends mean well, but they can't bring him back," Billy Johnson said. "Nothing will."

(News researcher Lamara Williams-Hackett contributed to this report.)

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