James “Jimmy” Johnson, aged 31, was part of a vehicle checkpoint patrol operating in the Lashkar Gar area on Saturday 28th June 2008 when he was killed by an anti-personnel mine.
James ("Jimmy") Johnson, a Lance Corporal in the 5th Battalion (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) Royal Regiment of Scotland, was born in Chatham, Kent, on 3 June 1977 but grew up in Drumchapel near Strathclyde. He joined the 1st Battalion the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in 1997. He quickly found his niche in the Army and once he gained experience in a Rifle Company he joined the Assault Pioneer Platoon.
Seeking a challenge, he put himself forward for a demanding Close Observation Platoon (COP) course in July 2001, showing himself to be an extremely fit man who put others to shame with his ability to burn the candle at both ends and still perform.
He served a very successful tour with the COP in Belfast from 2001 to 2003. On the Battalion's re-rolling to 16 Air Assault Brigade Lance Corporal Johnson volunteered for a Sniper Course and qualified as a Sniper Section Commander in December 2003.
His skills as an infantryman were second to none and he revelled in his role as a sniper, testing himself and those in his section. Since then he served again with the COP for a tour of Bosnia in 2005, the Sniper and Recce Platoons and latterly with the Heavy Machine Gun Platoon before transferring to B Company for Op HERRICK 8.
James's father, Lawrence Johnson, said:
"I am very proud of my son for being a soldier. It was his life. He always wanted to be in the Army since he was a small boy. He loved it."
James's fiancée, Bernadette Broadley said:
"He was my best friend and my fiancée. I am very, very proud of him being a brave soldier. I want him to be remembered for who and what he was."
Lt Col David Richmond, James's Commanding Officer, said:
"LCpl Johnson has made the ultimate sacrifice; a superb soldier and junior commander he died doing the job he loved, among men who held him in the highest regard. He set the pace among his peers with his fitness, outstanding infantry and leadership abilities, native wit and sense of perspective. He was loved and respected by everyone he served with and will be remembered for his humanity, the time he always had for people whatever the pressures on himself, his keen sense of humour and, above all, his professionalism.
"LCpl Johnson was one of our stars for the future; his death is a tragedy and his loss is felt by the entire Battalion. We have lost one of our best; a true air assault infantryman, a gentleman, friend and colleague with spark, wit and courage. The courage and commitment that he showed every day in Helmand Province has been an inspiration to us all.
"I have been immensely proud to have commanded Jimmy Johnson on operations and humbled by the sacrifice he has made. My thoughts and sympathies and those of all ranks of the Battalion are with LCpl Johnson's fiancée Bernadette, his daughter Shannon and his family. He will be deeply mourned, but never forgotten."
James's Company Commander, Major Harry Clark, paid the following tribute:
"LCpl "Jimmy" Johnson joined B Company just prior to deployment to Lashkar Gah on Op HERRICK 8. Despite his late arrival he had no problems fitting in to the company and immediately started to add value on patrol and in camp. A highly effective team commander he preferred to lead by example and pass on his considerable experience to those under his command.
"It is no coincidence that many of the young Jocks in his multiple now wish to attend a sniper cadre after the tour. It is a mark of his professional quality that I made no secret of my aspiration to ‘poach' him from Support Company at the end of the tour.
"As a man Jimmy was kind and considerate and worked particularly well as a steadying hand for the younger Jocks in the Company. Despite his reputation as a highly professional soldier everything he did was laced with humility. For example my most vivid recollection of Jimmy was visiting a sangar in Lashkar Gah Provincial Reconstruction Team to find him on duty.
"As an NCO there was no requirement for him to do this duty, he did it to lighten the load for those in his multiple. Above all Jimmy was a good man and the world is a darker place for his absence.
"At this time our thoughts and prayers are with Bernadette, his fiancée, Shannon his daughter and Connie and Lawrence, his mother and father."
WO2 Tam Rankine, LCpl Johnson's Company Sergeant Major said the following:
"LCpl Jimmy Johnson arrived in the Company just prior to deployment and quickly established himself with the Company and Jocks alike. He excelled at the in-theatre training package and on the ranges he single handily trained the whole Company in sharp shooting with the Sniper rifle and conducted in depth training to bring the Jocks up to his professional standards.
"As a soldier and a man Jimmy was approachable and a great source of leadership for the young soldiers under his command. He had a manner that allowed him to bring the best out of the Jocks he worked with. He was a reliable and trusted leader who always got on with the job at hand to the highest professional standard; the Company and the Battalion will miss him greatly. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time."
Sgt Scotty McFadden, James's Platoon Sergeant and friend from the Recce Platoon said the following:
"LCpl Johnson, better known to the troops and the hierarchy of the battalion as Jimmy "J". Jimmy was a soldier first and foremost. Throughout my time in the Argyll's I have had the distinct privilege of serving with some of the finest soldiers a man could wish to serve with, and none come higher than Jimmy "J". I have done a lot of soldiering alongside Jimmy and I categorically state that he was a pleasure to work with.
"From our days in the Recce Platoon he was always the quiet guy, but he was also the guy with all the good ideas. Jimmy was a forward thinker, constantly thinking of ways to improve his and others performance, whether that be in the office layout or the way in which kit could be carried more effectively during patrols.
"You really couldn't wish for a better team commander in Afghanistan, he was always thinking. It got to the point of being scary, like he could read your mind; everything would be squared away before you got the chance to tell him to do it. As a character there are not many people in this world like Jimmy. A quiet man in his day to day life with a heart of gold, nothing was ever too much trouble if you needed help "no drama's mate" that's what he'd say because that's the man he was.
"When it came to nights on the town Jimmy was the ultimate party animal he was no longer the quiet man, quite the opposite, the life and soul. Jimmy was a Soldier first and foremost but he was also a very good friend and will be sorely missed."
LCpl Showell, James's best friend from 5 SCOTS, pays this tribute:
"Jimmy "J" what can I say about him? Well, this man liked to live life to the max. I was his best friend and had known him for 11 years and there was never a dull moment when he was about. Jimmy, or as I used to call him ("Jonny 5") back in the old days, loved his job and always did it to a very high standard no matter how he felt that day. We used to do a lot together as we were part of a team, we started off in A Company back in Edinburgh.
"After 4 years in A Company he moved to Support Company to go to the Assault Pioneer platoon and that's where he stayed for a while. He then went and did the COP course and he found it very interesting and the job suited him down to the bone.
"He left all that behind when he moved to Canterbury and joined the Recce platoon as a sniper and with the hard courses he's done, has always given 110 percent. That was just the way he was. After a while in Canterbury he met Bernadette and they both became inseparable, they both had the same things in common - always partying at the weekends. That's the way everybody should remember him."
LCpl Pete McBurney - Recce Platoon
"I first met Jimmy in Belfast and straight away we became good friends. Once the Battalion moved to Canterbury we went to separate Companies, but remained good friends. We often went out to watch rugby at the weekends together.
"Jimmy was always full of life and had no difficulty making new friends as his outstandingly generous and kind personality would shine through. One of the people Jimmy was to charm with his personality was Bernadette, his fiancée. She became a very important part of his life. As their relationship grew Jimmy and Bernadette got engaged.
"For those who knew Jimmy they know how much of a character he was whilst he was out and how happy he was as well. That's how I'll remember him."
Pte Woody Wood - Recce Platoon
"I've known Jimmy for a good few years and have many fond memories. He was a very dear friend who will be missed dearly by all who knew him."