The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

January 26, 2013

Stories of eight women who died in combat

(Continued)

Steedley, originally from San Diego, lived in San Clemente with her husband of eight years, also a marine, and their four children. She had received numerous commendations including two Marine Corps Good Conduct Medals, three certificates of commendation, and numerous others.

ARMY SGT. DONNA JOHNSON

Died: Oct. 1 in Khost

Age: 29

A member of the North Carolina Army National Guard, Johnson was on her second tour of duty after having deployed to Iraq in 2007. Johnson was killed along with two other members of the guard after a suicide bomber detonated his vest while they were on foot patrol in a market in the eastern city of Khost. She is survived by her wife, Tracy Dice, who also serves in the military.

Johnson, who married Dice in Washington D.C. in 2011, shortly after the repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, is the first known married, lesbian service member killed in action, and some supporters were angered when initial press reports failed to mention Dice. Because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Dice is not recognized by the Department of Defense as Johnson’s spouse and is not listed as a next of kin — meaning she was not among those first informed of her wife’s death and learned of it via the Internet — and is not eligible for the grief counseling or honors typically afforded military spouses. It was only thanks to an intervention from Johnson’s mother that Dice was allowed to accompany the casket from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

Dice is currently fighting a legal battle with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to be granted survivor’s benefits as Johnson’s widow. The U.S. Supreme Court is due to review the Defense of Marriage Act later this year.

ARMY CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 2 THALIA S. RAMIREZ

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