HOUSTON – The family of Army Sgt. James Johnston was honored Thursday morning as his portrait was unveiled at the Fallen Warriors Memorial Gallery.
Johnston was killed in action June 25 while serving in Afghanistan.
His picture is now one of about 350 portraits painted in honor of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Who was Johnston?
Johnston was a family man. He and his wife met in high school and have been together ever since.
In March, the night before he deployed, Krista Johnston found out she was pregnant and was able to surprise her husband the night before he was deployed. Johnston said it was the first time she ever saw him cry.
Johnston is due in November and plans to name her daughter Jamie Avery Grace Johnston.
James, the Army man
Johnston enlisted in the Army right out of high school. He worked his way up and was eventually promoted to sergeant. He served for about six years.
His most recent deployment was in March.
Johnston said she was notified about his death, but not given specifics because it is under investigation.
What is the Fallen Warriors Memorial Gallery?
The Fallen Warriors Memorial honors the fallen Texans who gave their lives fighting in the war against terrorism.
The art gallery houses hundreds of portraits -- all painted by Ken Pridgeon.
Here’s a quick clip of her initial reaction. “It’s Perfect,” Said Krista Johnston.Posted by KPRC 2 Bill Barajas on Thursday, July 25, 2019
Who is Ken Pridgeon?
Pridgeon is an Air Force veteran who picked up drawing and sketching as a child.
Pridgeon said he had never painted a portrait until he was asked to do so around 2009. Pridgeon has painted about 350 portraits since then.
"You can go to a graveyard, you can visit the graveyard, but it's not the same as coming in and seeing the image of your son and daughter," Pridgeon said. "I try to put happy stories in the background so we'll have a little celebration here rather than a funeral."
What's is next for the Johnston Family?
Johnston is currently living near Fort Hood but said she will move to Galveston to be near her husband's family and raise her daughter.
The Johnstons will also hold a memorial benefit for James Johnston on Saturday to celebrate his life and help support his family.
The benefit will be held at Drunken Monkeyz at 202 20th St. in Galveston from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.