Johnson had been deployed in December with the Georgia National Guard 48th Infantry Brigade, and was undergoing training in Savannah to ready him for what military officials said would have been at least a year in Iraq.
“I wanted to go, but about a week and a half ago, I finally realized what I was putting my family through,” he said. “It’s kind of disappointing, but I know my wife needs me at home.”
He and his wife, Jan Johnson, are still recovering from the loss of their son, Spc. Justin Weaver Johnson, 22, who was killed by shrapnel from a roadside bomb that exploded beside a Humvee in which he was the gunner.
Jan Johnson said Monday night that she cried upon learning her husband is coming home.
“It’s such a big relief,” she said. “It was like the biggest weight being lifted off my shoulders. Joe kept telling me he would be fine and that nothing would happen, ... but Justin told me the same thing.”
Joe Johnson said a chaplain and a sergeant advised him not to sign a waiver form that would have cleared him to go to Iraq.
“I guess it shouldn’t have been a tough decision, but it was,” he said.
Jan Johnson said she never wanted her husband to go to war, but she understood why he wanted to leave.
“He wanted to serve his country, and I could understand where he was coming from,” she said.
“I was scared, but I wanted to leave the decision up to him.”
Johnson expects to remain a National Guardsman, participating in monthly training sessions, though he will be considered deactivated, he said.
“It probably will always be in the back of my mind that I could have gone but I didn’t,” he said.
Joe Johnson said he expects to be back in Floyd County today