Mother of fallen soldier returns from Iraq

By Tim Pulliam - email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It's the news no military mom ever wants to hear -- their loved one has been hurt or killed while serving our country. Elaine Johnson's son, Darius Jennings, died serving in Iraq. From the beginning, we've followed her mission to visit the place where Darius lost his life.

Now Johnson is back from her trip, and says she's in a much better place now and ready to carry-on Darius' legacy. "If people know about burdens being lifted then they would know how I feel as a mother," said Johnson. "The burden has been lifted. Now I can begin my healing."

Johnson's son, specialist Darius Jennings, was killed seven years ago when his helicopter shot down in Iraq. A brick with his name lies at Orangeburg veteran's memorial.

Two months ago, Johnson said the brick wasn't enough for the grieving mother whose mission centered around honoring her sons death where he died.  "When I go to Iraq and do my memorial then I'll come back, then the brick will have a meaning to it," Johnson said at the time. "But now, the brick is just a brick."

Johnson took her trip to Iraq with other mothers whose sons died there. She met with Iraqi leaders and everyday people. For Elaine, the best part of the trip was honoring Darius. "I had a little crochet blue angel with the little red heart and I placed it on the soil and that's when I laid Darius to rest," she said.

Letting go of him, and the pain she's held for too long. "His favorite word would be Momma," she said. "It's finally alright."

Elaine says she's going to keep Darius' legacy alive with an annual golf tournament. The event will raise money for scholarships.

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