Stratford grad on missing chopper Sgt. Mark Johnson IV among Marines on Nepal relief mission

U.S. Marine Sgt. James L. Hibler of Arlington, Texas, and Sgt. Mark Johnson IV of Goose Creek sit on a UH-1Y Huey at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, last Saturday.

GOOSE CREEK — One of the six Marines on a relief helicopter missing in Nepal is a 2003 graduate of Stratford High School who recently appeared in a Pentagon video talking about the importance of the mission.

Crew Chief Sgt. Mark Johnson IV was on board the UH-1Y chopper that disappeared earlier this week, friends and family members have been told.

Scott Ruggles, a teacher and football coach at Stratford, has known Johnson’s family for decades. He said that most of Johnson’s immediate family has gathered at Camp Pendleton in California, where his unit was headquartered.

The chopper has not been located since it disappeared Tuesday. Family members, however, consider the lack of an identified crash site to be a good sign, Ruggles said, possibly indicating the chopper may have landed in a region that was out of radio range.

Johnson, 29, came from a military family and went into the Marine Corps after graduation because he wanted to follow their path of self-discipline, Ruggles said. “He liked to challenge himself; he wants to be the best and the Marines are the best,” Ruggles said.

Johnson has a wife and family.

Johnson is part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 sent to the humanitarian aid mission in Nepal after the region was hit by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake on April 25.

The Department of Defense video shows Johnson flying in a UH-1Y Huey helicopter over Nepal like the one that went missing this week. Johnson talks about the cooperative effort to bring relief supplies to the region where roads are out, buildings are down and access is hampered.

“Okay, so we just picked up 3,200 pounds of tents in Charikot, which is a main supply point for these small villages in the north,” Johnson says in the video. The background is green, forested and mountainous. Johnson talks about taking part in flying in supplies. The target goal is more than 200,000 pounds, he says.

The search, which is centered around the Sunkhani area, 50 miles northeast of Kathmandu, is ongoing. Two Nepalese soldiers also were on board.

The chopper went missing as a second severe quake rocked Nepal in recent days, leaving many survivors of Nepal’s most recent earthquake cut off by blocked roads in isolated villages.

The Associated Press contributed. Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551