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Jed Boal ReportingThousands of Utah families miss their loved ones deployed in the Middle East. They have concerns and fears and dreams of homecomings. But one family simply has more on the line.
Marilyn Johnson teaches youngsters to read at Moss Elementary in Salt Lake City. At the same time, her family is learning critical lessons in life.
Marilyn Johnson: We've been a patriotic family."
There's little doubt when it comes to her sons.
Marilyn Johnson: “They have a duty to their god, to their country and to their family."
Marilyn has one daughter, seven sons. Four sons and a son-in-law are deployed with National Guard units supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Marilyn Johnson: “Especially after 9-11 the boys felt a desire to help in any way they can."
There was no family legacy; one got started and the rest followed.
Sgt's Caleb, Bill and Nicolas Johnson are with the 1457th Engineer Battalion, working in Baghdad nearly a year, but coming home soon.
Private Chris Johnson is a cook with the 211th Aviation Regiment, training at Ft. Carson, Colorado and headed for Afghanistan.
And son-in-law Doug Kinsman is with the 115th Engineer Group recently arrived in Iraq.
Marilyn Johnson: “It's a constant stress because we're never sure when they're in harm's way."
While Mrs. Johnson is busy with her young students here in Salt Lake, her sons have been busy trying to win the hearts of Iraqi children. They believe that's the best way to success with enduring freedom.
Marilyn Johnson: “They are so glad to be where they are, and feel they are doing such important work with those people."
The Johnson boys in Baghdad have worked in the schools and delivered pencils, writing supplies and even gifts from Moss Elementary. The whole family contributes and shoulders the sacrifice.
Marilyn Johnson: “The true heroes are the wives that are home. They've put their lives on hold."
Put off having kids and sacrificed lifestyles, but feel they've gained more than they've lost.
Marilyn Johnson: "They have grown so much, and their marriages are so much stronger, and they appreciate their husbands having made that sacrifice."
But Marilyn Johnson looks forward to the day when all her boys are safe at home again.