A moving tribute to U.S. troops killed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will honor seven service members who died Thursday when their Black Hawk helicopter went down north of Kandahar City in Afghanistan.
"There'll be some boots there with no names," Johnson told KITV4. "Just to know that we haven't forgotten 'em."
Johnson, a Fisher House manager at Tripler Army Medical Center, began collecting military boots in January to display along the route of Saturday's 8K Hero & Remembrance Run, Walk or Roll. The fun run is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island.
"It started out as an opportunity to promote Fisher House and let people know what it is that we do," said Johnson. "But I wanted to take it to another level and make it personal, because we've lost friends (and) we have friends who've lost their children."
It's believed as many as four of the service members killed in the chopper crash are with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Schofield Barracks. A Taliban spokesman claimed the Black Hawk was shot down, but the U.S. military is continuing its investigation. The Department of Defense has not released an official list of the seven troops who were killed.
Although Johnson fell short of her goal of collecting 6,000 pairs of boots, she was able to collect about 1,500 pair. Each boot has the picture and name of a service member who died during the two wars. Where the boots end, streamers with images of the fallen will fill in the gaps.
"Our goal was to bring the names and faces back because there's so many," said Johnson.
Johnson's gallant effort has received support from dozens of volunteers. Mike and Anita Dice of North Tustin, Calif. traveled to Oahu to lend their helping hands. The couple is heavily involved with Soldier's Angels, a nonprofit group that provides aid and comfort to the men and women of all branches of the U.S. military.
"It's very humbling to see so many boots," said Anita Dice. "I feel like I'm surrounded by heroes."
Many of those dropping off boots to Tripler Fisher House in the past weeks and months have their own stories of what it's like to lose a loved one.