Soldier with local ties dies in attack

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By Alice Du Pont

Flags in Quincy flew at half-staff Saturday in honor of Army Staff Sgt. Justin Johnson. Johnson, 25, was one of four soldiers killed June 25 during an attack at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. He was serving his third tour of duty.

Johnson briefly attended East Gadsden High School in the short time the family lived in Quincy. Johnson’s mother, Sonja Randolph, taught at Stewart Street Elementary School and his stepfather, Johnny Randolph, served briefly as director of the Quincy Recreation Department. Johnson graduated from South Fork High School in Hobe Sound, where the family now lives, in 2006.

Johnson had been stationed at Fort Eustis in Virginia as a sergeant in the transportation battalion. He had served tours of duty in Haiti and Iraq before his Afghanistan tour began in 


Randolph said it was almost as if her son had a premonition before he went to Afghanistan that he might not return. She said he told her everything to do “in case something happened to him.”

Randolph said the outpouring of love, concern and support has been tremendous.

“There have been so many calls and visits, from people here (Hobe Sound) and in Quincy, who knew Justin,” she said.

Randolph has many family members who still live in Gadsden County, including an aunt, Earlean Taylor, and an uncle, Willie Johnson.

“This young man gave his life for us and he was one of us,” said Quincy City Manager Jack McLean. “The very least we could do was lower the flag on the day he was laid to rest.”