Two Vandenberg Air Force Base airmen deployed in Afghanistan were injured—one fatally—when an improvised explosive device detonated near them on Tuesday, October 5. Senior Airman Daniel Johnson, 23, was killed and Tech. Sgt. Robert Butler was injured.
Both were assigned to the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight—the military equivalent of a bomb squad—and were working on dismantling and diffusing a bomb when, according to a statement issued by VAFB officials, “insurgents attacked [their] unit with an improvised explosive device in Kandahar, Afghanistan.” It’s not yet clear whether the same bomb Johnson was working on killed him or if it was another device.
Johnson was transported to a hospital at Kandahar Air Base but was soon pronounced dead. Butler is reportedly recovering from his injuries.
The Department of Defense’s Web site states that Johnson is from Schiller Park, Illinois. He had been in Afghanistan for about a month on a six-month deployment. It was his second trip to a war zone, having served seven months in an earlier deployment to Iraq.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of Airman Johnson and Sergeant Butler during this extremely difficult time,” said Col. Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander. “The loss of one of our own deeply affects us all; Team Vandenberg is pulling together closely to be there for the Johnson and Butler families and for each other.”
Johnson leaves behind a wife who he married this past summer.
Vandenberg currently has 150 personnel deployed all over the world with 60 in Afghanistan. A base spokesperson said that this is the first Vandenberg airman to lose his life in Afghanistan; in May of 2009 Navy Reserve Cmdr. Duane Wolfe was killed in Iraq.