Growing up apart, yet so close together. We vowed to each other, that we'll be together forever.

SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan - What inspires an individual to join the Army can be as varied as the Soldiers who serve in its ranks.

Spc. Kinsasha Johnson carries a torch handed to her by her brother. She ensures the light he carried will continue on even if he cannot.

"My brother joined the military but had passed away soon after; knowing that this is something he wanted to do, inspired me to join," said Johnson, a human resources specialist for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade.

Johnson joined the military in order to serve her country in place of her brother, Kenderick Johnson II, who died Easter weekend 2008. She joined just six months after his death.

"I feel like I'm making him happy and helping him," said Johnson. "I wake up liking the fact that I joined."

Johnson, a Fayetteville, N.C., native comes from a military family. Her father, mother and grandparents all served in the military. Because of their parents' military service Kinsasha and Kenderick, who were born a year apart, could not always live with both parents and were often separated.

So many miles away we lived, but always together at the heart. Knowing that no matter what happened; no one could ever tear our bond apart.

Kinsasha was the shyer of the two siblings, but she found strength in her brother's guidance.

"When we were younger he was the one that would push me to do a lot of things I was scared to do," said Kinsasha. "He was the one to say 'you should do it, you should do it, you know what, I'll do it with you.' That was my strength back then."

What Kinsasha did not know was that source of strength would come to a sudden end.

Losing you was never a thought, for you said you'd always be there. Then a tragic accident one day, and the news I couldn't bear.

Kinsasha had lost her hero, and for a moment the legacy of military service in her family had ended. Less than six months after her brother's death Kinsasha prepared for a new challenge - basic training.

"I had accomplished basic [training] and [advanced individual training] and it was like a wakeup call. If I could do that, I knew I could do anything; I felt empowered," said Kinsasha.

The newly motivated Kinsasha was assigned to the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, where she continues to push herself to be a good Soldier and her determination shows to those who know her.
"She works all day; she works late making sure that things are taken care of because she understands what it takes to get the job done," said Sgt. Jessica Sikes, promotions noncommissioned officer, HHC, 525th BSB.

It wasn't until after the unit's deployment to Afghanistan that others started to understand why Kinsasha strives to be the best at what she does.

People were there that love you, this I know is true. But all I wanted was for you to wake up, and see me there with you.

"Since we've been deployed I've seen her come out of her shell," said Sikes. "I think being around others has a way of motivating her."

Kinsasha wanted to find a way to share her brother's story with the Soldiers of her unit, but was not sure how to do it. She was given that opportunity when she heard the 525th BSB would be hosting a poetry reading for its Soldiers.

"I wanted people to hear my poem but I wasn't sure I was ready to read it out loud, but I knew it needed to be read," said Kinsasha, "I had been reading that poem, that day, all day, and it just felt right to read it, I felt like he wanted me to read it."

Big brother... You know I love you; I love you with all my heart. And I feel that our bond and love will forever keep us together, never apart.

At the poetry reading Kinsasha shared her poem titled "My Brother."

"It was like a weight was lifted off my chest because now people know more about me and some of the things I do and why I do them," said Kinsasha.

Editor's note: The italicized portions of the article are excerpts from the poem "My Brother," written by Kinsasha Johnson.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16