Stephen Johnson: A Hero's Letter

Lance Cpl. Stephen Franklin Johnson 

Lance Cpl. Stephen Franklin Johnson 

Lance Cpl. Stephen Franklin Johnson was inspired by the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks -- which he watched unfold from his high school classroom -- to join the Marine Corps. He wrote about it in this pre-deployment letter to his family.

Johnson, of Dacula, died Oct. 6, 2006 in Al Anbar province in Iraq. He was 20.

I signed into the Marines because I felt I had a job to do, more or less a duty that I felt I needed to do for our country. After September 11th, I felt I needed to go to war to protect our country; but most importantly, for my family and friends. It's a dangerous thing to go into war and fight for something that is 8,000 miles away. But I felt it was something I needed to do.You must always remember the boys that have died for our country. Old men start the wars, but teenagers fight them. Always remember that. The average Marine is 19 years old. Right out of high school. Never forget us and the sacrifices that we have made to sustain our great amount of liberty. We have given up being away from home for a great amount of time, not seeing our family and friends, and giving up our own liberties. We, as Marines, know what we have to do for our country and to keep it safe. We know the cost of war and that Marines will die in combat. We are trained very well but are not invincible. All I ask is that you not forget me and my fellow Marines. When you think every now and then about your freedom, know that Marines and other military branches are there to protect that from anyone else trying to take it away.

If it takes my life to protect them, then that's what I have to do. It was the ultimate sacrifice that I was willing to make ... and I made it. I was destined to do this and do not regret any part of it.

All I ask is to tell our story of us in battle fighting for our country ... and that we did not die for nothing.