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Evangel to Hold Special Veterans Day Service to Honor Solider Killed in Afghanistan

Evangel - Lt. David Johnson in 2011

On Tuesday, Evangel University will host a special Veteran’s Day service in the school’s chapel auditorium. During the ceremony, a tribute will be paid to the family of a 2010 Evangel graduate, First Lieutenant David A. Johnson, who was killed in action in Afghanistan earlier this year. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has more.


The ceremony will start at promptly 9:58 a.m. with Missouri State University’s Bear Battalion ROTC presenting the colors and the Evangel Marching Band performing The Star-Spangled Banner.

John Plake is the campus pastor and director of spiritual life at Evangel. He says the school conducts this service every year to honor all veterans.

“Last year, at this time, we had a special guest with us, a 2010 graduate of Evangel, First Lieutenant David Johnson. David was also a member of MSU’s ROTC Bear Battalion and he was about to deploy, so he came back to Evangel and was our guest here in 2011.”

Not three months after that speaking engagement, Johnson was killed in action in Afghanistan.

Plake says the lieutenant was a student ministry leader at the school, so many people knew him. He says Johnson has two brothers affiliated with Evangel: one graduated from the university earlier this year, and the other is a freshman. Their family is from Horicon, Wisconsin.

Lt. Johnson’s parents, Andrew and Laura, and siblings, Michael, Matthew and Emily will be in attendance during the service.

“They’re loved in their own community; they’ve had just a wonderful reception from the state of Wisconsin, and yet they wanted to come here because the Bear Battalion played such a central role in David’s life while he was in college, gave him excellent training. One of the members of the faculty of the Bear Battalion, retired Major Doug Shank, is going to be part of the memorial service tomorrow.”

The Bear Battalion will present a plaque to the family that Plake says will express how much Johnson meant to that group of soldiers.

Again, here’s Pastor John Plake.

“The public is invited to attend. Other students who may have known David or have connection to the Bear Battalion would certainly be welcome. We have assigned seating in our chapel for our students, but we have some open areas of seating for our guests, and we’d love to have them come.”

Keynote speakers include Captain Nathan Smith, the lieutenant’s Company Commander in Afghanistan; and Sgt. Joshua Davis, a fellow graduate in Johnson’s class at Evangel. Davis escorted Johnson's body at memorial services in Wisconsin and Washington, and to his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.