Christopher Dean Johnson – Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps

3 June 2008:

Christopher Johnson vanished last month after setting off in a boat on the Susquehanna River. After a week of searching his body was finally found.


The family says you can make donations at any Fulton Bank in Johnson's name. Donations will be distributed to various rescue teams, the “Wounded Warrior Project” and the Marine Corps League.

The family adds Johnson will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, 6 June 2008.

30 May 2008:

Body of missing Lancaster County boater is found

AIRVILLE, Pennsylvania – The search for a missing boater in the Susquehanna River has ended.

Police say crews discovered the body of Christopher Johnson, 24, of Lancaster County near Long Level, not far from where he had been fishing last week.

Johnson's boat was discovered May 21, 2008, on the York County shore, with an uninjured young Labrador retriever still on board. Johnson was a 2002 graduate of Penn Manor High School and was a culinary student at York Technical Institute. An Iraq war veteran, Johnson lost his arm to machine-gun fire during fighting in Fallujah.

29 May 2008

Autopsy results show Christopher Johnson accidentally drowned. His body was pulled from the Lake Clarke area yesterday.

The 24-year-old marine went missing last Wednesday during a fishing trip with his dog. Officials placed an American flag on his body when it was pulled from the lake.

29 May 2008:

The body of Christopher Johnson, a Lancaster County Marine who went missing while he was boating last week, was found Wednesday afternoon in the Susquehanna River.

Johnson, 24, of Manor Township, was reported missing after his boat was found run ashore near Long Level in York County. Emergency crews searched for four days before scaling back the rescue operation.

Dr. Steven Diamantoni, Lancaster County's coroner, said Johnson's body was discovered about 12:45 p.m.

There is no reason to believe it a “suspicious death,” Diamantoni said. He said the manner and cause of Johnson's death will be determined by an autopsy performed today by forensic pathologist Dr. Wayne Ross.

Johnson's body was found about a quarter-mile south of Green Branch Road, in Chanceford Township, by a group searching for him, said Lower Windsor Township Police Chief David Sterner. The group did not include family members, he said.

The body was removed from the water at Blue Rock Landing, on the Lancaster County side of the river. Sterner said the family wanted him to be taken out where he went in.

“I think the family's relieved,” he said. “It brings them some closure.”

Johnson served a few months in Iraq before he was shot in the right arm in 2004. He spent one year at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after he was injured, family members said.

Because he had lost his arm, family members initially questioned whether he had lost control of the boat.

He launched his boat from the Lancaster County side of the river early May 21. When his boat was found on the York County shoreline a few hours later, its ignition was in the “on” position, and his yellow Labrador retriever was still on board.

Steve Kearney worked with Johnson at the U.S. Department of Defense depot in New Cumberland. He said he was at a loss for words Wednesday after hearing the news that Johnson's body had been found.

“I'm kind of in a bad place right now with my feelings. I had been praying that he was someplace, getting himself together. I hoped he was OK,” Kearney said.

After all Johnson had been through and seen while serving in the Iraq war, Kearney said Johnson deserved the nickname he gave him.

“I didn't even call him Chris. I called him hero,” Kearney said. “He was a good man.”

Wounded Vets Tapped For New VA Program
Job Training Looks to Life After Military
By Christopher Lee
Courtesy of The Washington Post
Thursday, March 31, 2005

Lance Corporal Christopher Johnson lost his right arm to machine gun fire when his squad of Marines was ambushed by enemy fighters near Fallujah in Iraq last summer. Now the 20-year-old Pennsylvania native is on a different kind of mission, trying to start a new life back home and help fellow wounded veterans do the same.

Johnson, who joined the Marines after high school, is training to be a counselor as part of a small, experimental program at the Veterans Affairs Department that provides skills, work experience and the prospect of a VA job for wounded soldiers whose injuries will force their exit from the military.

The program began last fall and is run by a small cadre of VA staffers, who volunteer to train and mentor participants in addition to their regular jobs. The effort has brought 27 service members into the department as volunteer interns, with nine becoming full-time hires, VA officials said.

Jennifer Duncan, the VA manager who devised the program, said the intent is to help wounded military members get a fresh start while recruiting veterans into the department's ranks. Veterans make up about 31 percent of the VA's 232,000 employees, officials said, but many are from the Vietnam War era and are nearing retirement.

“We're really proud that we're repopulating the VA with veterans,” said Duncan, the director of management and programs within the VA's Office of Information and Technology. “This is their agency. . . . We have a lot of people retiring, and this is replacing them with the next generation.”

The effort, known as the “Vet I.T.” program, began as a volunteer attempt to provide seriously wounded war fighters at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda with information technology skills and training that could help them land jobs at the VA. It quickly grew into a wider program open to injured service members with a broad range of occupational interests, including counseling, budget preparation and federal acquisitions work.

The program augments the VA's Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Service program, which helps veterans with service-connected disabilities get further schooling and jobs and live independently, but narrows the focus to employment at the VA.

In the new D.C.-area program, service members shadow a VA mentor on the job, get help with housing and using the Metro and, in many cases, divide their time between the VA and a military hospital so they can continue therapy and medical treatment.

Johnson, who is awaiting discharge, said the program has helped give new direction to his life — and a way to give back to his fellow service members. Johnson plans to apply to the University of Maryland and eventually earn a master's degree in counseling.

He has spent the past few months interviewing wounded soldiers and Marines at Walter Reed and in Bethesda. He takes down vital information about their time in military service and their plans for the future, and tries to answer their questions.

“It's connecting on a one-to-one basis with somebody,” Johnson said. “The vets can kind of look at me, the guys getting back, and be like, ‘Wow, this guy is missing his arm, but he's pretty holly-jolly.' . . . I can kind of give them advice. I can tell them what they should expect.”

A full-time job with the VA is not guaranteed. But under federal employment preferences for veterans, federal agencies may hire, without competition, veterans who are rated as being at least 30 percent disabled because of a service-related injury or illness.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 05/09/1984
  • DATE OF DEATH: 05/28/2008





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