TRUMANSBURG, N.Y. — A soldier from Trumansburg was killed on duty in Afghanistan this week, authorities say. In his honor, flags across New York will fly at half-staff beginning Friday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered that flags fly at half-staff beginning Friday, June 28, to honor 24-year-old Sgt. James G. Johnston, of Trumansburg. Johnston died from injuries he sustained in a small arms fire during a combat operation Tuesday, June 25, in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, according to a press release from the Department of Defense.

“On behalf of all New Yorkers I extend our sympathy to the friends, family, and fellow soldiers of Sgt. Johnston,” Cuomo said in a statement. “His death is a reminder of the sacrifices members of the military make to protect the freedoms and the values that this state and this nation were founded upon.”

Sgt. Johnston entered active-duty military service in July 2013 as an explosive ordnance disposal specialist. He was assigned to the 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), part of the 71st Ordnance Group at Fort Hood, Texas. He was deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in March 2019.

“It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the passing of Sergeant James Johnston. He was the epitome of what we as Soldiers all aspire to be: intelligent, trained, always ready. We will honor his service and his sacrifice to this nation as we continue to protect others from explosive hazards around the world,” Lt. Col. Stacy M. Enyeart, commander of 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) said in a statement.

(Photo courtesy of Green Beret Foundation Facebook)

Johnston’s awards and decorations include a Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Action Badge, Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge and Explosive Ordnance Badge.

Another soldier, Master Sgt. Michael B. Riley, 32, of Heilbronn, Germany, was also killed in the incident Tuesday, according to the Department of Defense. The incident remains under investigation.

Featured image: Sgt. James G. Johnston, explosive ordnance disposal specialist, 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) (Courtesy of Fort Hood Press Center)

Ithaca Voice Reporter Becky Mehorter contributed to this report.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.