Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson's remains are transferred by a U.S. Army carry team at Dover Air Force Base. Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force/Adrian R. Rowan.
Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson’s remains are transferred by a U.S. Army carry team at Dover Air Force Base. Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force/Adrian R. Rowan.

RALEIGH, N.C. — Lesbian Staff Sgt. Donna R. Johnson, 29, from Raeford and a member of the N.C. National Guard’s 514th Military Police Co., 60th Troop Command, based out of Winterville, N.C., was among 14 people killed on Oct. 1 while she was on assignment in Khost, Afghanistan. A suicide bomber on a motorcycle drove into a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol there, about 100 miles southeast of Kabul near the Pakistan border, and detonated a vest packed with explosives, The Associated Press reported. In addition to Johnson, two other service members were killed. The mission was part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson. Photo courtesy North Carolina National Guard.

The Department of Defense made the announcement, though they failed to include any mention of Johnson’s surviving wife, Tracy Dice, an honor given to the families of the two other soldiers killed in the incident.

On her second deployment, Johnson was deployed in August on a mission to train Afghan security forces in conjunction with international troops, The AP said.

The AP added, “Johnson was a former state prison guard and a military police officer and had worked in bomb training at Fort Bragg. Her family said in a statement they want to remember Johnson ‘as a mission focused professional who gave her life serving her country and performing a job that she loved and excelled at.’ She ‘was a reserved and private person who had a close group of friends’ and four dogs. She is survived by her spouse, Tracy Dice.”

Johnson was identified as a lesbian by The American Military Partner Association in a memorial posting on Facebook.

Her body was returned on Oct. 2 to Dover Air Force Base. At press time, funeral arrangements were scheduled for Oct. 13.

The Wisconsin Gazette reported that the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church said they would be there to picket the funeral in Raeford.

According to The News-Journal in Raeford, services will be held at Raeford Presbyterian Church. Capt. Kevin Winemiller will officiate. Visitation was held the evening of Oct. 12 at Crumpler Funeral Home.

The newspaper listed her accommodations as: the Bronze Star Medal posthumous; the Purple Heart posthumous, Army Commendation Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star; Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Armed Forces Reserve Medal with M Device, 2; Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal posthumous; North Carolina Meritorious Service Medal posthumous; 1, Combat Action Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge; Bar, Driver-W (for wheeled vehicles); Combat and Special Skill Badge Basic Marksmanship Qual Badge; Bar, Weapon: Rifle (Inscription: Rifle); and Expert, Overseas Service Bar, 2.

In Lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Fisher House, 111 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20850; Ronald McDonald House of Durham, 506 Alexander Ave., Durham, NC 27705; or The USO of North Carolina, P.O. Box 91536, Raleigh, NC 27675.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.