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Spc. Maurice J. Johnson
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Army Spc. Maurice J. Johnson, 21, of Levittown, Pa.; assigned to C Company, 501st Signal Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based in Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Nov. 1 when his Humvee was hit by an improvised explosive device in Mosul, Iraq.

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Spc. Maurice J. Johnson Memorial Book

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Second slain soldier named


The Leaf-Chronicle

The name of a second soldier killed in a enemy roadside bombing Saturday in Mosul, was released Tuesday by the Pentagon.

Spc. Maurice J. Johnson, 21, Company C of the 501st Signal Battalion, died, along with 1st Lt. Joshua C. Hurley, 24, of 326th Engineer Battalion, when their humvee hit what the military calls an improvised explosive device. Two others were injured in the attack, but their names will not be released.

Johnson, a native of Levittown, Pa., entered the U.S. Army in July 2000 and arrived at Fort Campbell in April 2002 as a communications specialist.

His sister, Keisha Johnson, 25, in Levittown, said she's doing all she can to keep the family together after dealing with her oldest brother's death. The family plans to have his burial in Pennsylvania -- possibly at a military cemetery. His body arrived late Monday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

"Everybody is OK. Our mom passed away two years ago, so it was just us left," Keisha Johnson said, referring to herself and brothers Joshua, 19, and Abdul, 13. "Our family is close, but we're not a big family."

She called it a blessing that she received an e-mail from her oldest brother two days before he was killed.

"He said he'd send some pictures and couldn't wait to get back home. He decided he wasn't going to take his two weeks (R&R) and would wait to come home in March and April and be home with the family" Keisha Johnson said. "It was a little weird because I hadn't heard from him for such a long time, and then I got the e-mail."

After Spc. Johnson graduated from Harry S. Truman High School in 2000, where he was on the track team, he joined the military. His sister said he had hopes of making a career of the Army.

She said although her brother was quiet, he was never short on making others laugh.

"He was always trying to make jokes," Keisha Johnson said, recalling the times he called her from Iraq pretending to be a bill collector or acting like an ex-boyfriend trying to stir up trouble. But Spc. Johnson was always even-tempered and gentle.

"You had to really make him upset about something before he got mad," she said. "All of us had our own special bond with Maurice. He was close to all of us. I'm going to miss him dearly."

A Fort Campbell memorial service is not planned because the 101st Airborne Division is deployed. Johnson and Hurley were both remembered and honored during services Tuesday in Iraq. The explosion remains under investigation.

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Mourners praise 'a man of courage'
A soldier from Levittown who died in Iraq is buried.

Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer

One by one, they read the cards of sorrow and a state House resolution that marked the passing of Maurice Johnson, a man who grew up in Bucks County and was serving in Iraq when he was killed.

"His loss came as a shock to all of us serving in the 101st Airborne Division," family friend Gwen Davis read from the card from an Army commander. "Maurice was a man of courage and character."

At Johnson's funeral yesterday, the day after Veterans Day, dozens of relatives, friends, and township and school officials recalled Johnson, 21, in much the same words as his military peers.

"I'm proud of him," said Johnson's uncle, Sonny Jones, 72, who was wounded in combat in Korea five decades ago. "Everyone should serve this great country. That's what he did."

Johnson, a communications specialist who was born in Dallas and grew up in the Bloomsdale section of Levittown, died Nov. 1 when the civilian vehicle he was riding in was bombed in Mosul.

The Army posthumously awarded Johnson the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for meritorious service, his family said.

Yesterday, at the First Presbyterian Church on Emilie Road, several soldiers sat among the congregation; some were from the area and others from Fort Campbell, Ky., where Johnson was based. Two of them, wearing white gloves, stood solemnly on either side of Johnson's casket, which was draped in Old Glory.

The flag, Sgt. Nicholas Pierce said, would be folded and presented to the family at the grave at Beverly National Cemetery in Burlington County.

At the church, longtime family friend Anne Watts performed a solo that harked back to the spirituals of old. In a eulogy read afterward by Elizabeth Carter, Johnson was remembered as a "plain nice guy" who lived in Bristol Township for 18 years, attended Harry S Truman High School, ran track and played football and spent hours at the neighborhood basketball court. He was also a graduate of Bucks County Technical School.

Tony Stallworth, another family friend, said Johnson's mother, Jennifer, who died two years ago, encouraged him to join the Army after graduating from high school because he was puzzled about what to do next.

Johnson enlisted in July 2000.

"I remember him coming with the papers and saying, 'Mr. Tony, I'm going in,' " Stallworth said. "He said to me, I'm going in as a boy, I'm coming back as a man.' "

Carter said Johnson achieved that goal.

"Maurice came back a man. He came back a champion," she said.

Johnson is survived by a daughter, Laniyah, 1; his sister, Keisha Johnson, 25; brothers Joshua Johnson, 19, and Abdul Hashim, 13; and other relatives.

Yesterday, as he stood outside the church surrounded by a throng of friends - some wearing ribbons with a photo of Johnson attached - Joshua Johnson reflected on his brother's life.

"He was a good guy," Joshua Johnson said. "He just did what was right."