Sandra Johnson spoke to ABC11 Wednesday evening from Hoke County where American flags line a path to her home. They symbolize a family's sacrifice and a mother pain.
"It's like an emptiness that can't be filled," said Sandra Johnson.
Twenty-nine-year-old Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson died Monday in a suicide bomb blast in Afghanistan. Two other soldiers in the unit were also killed. Sgt. Johnson had been deployed just a month.
Sandra Johnson said she and her husband were not surprised when soldiers knocked on their door.
"We had a bad feeling this time," she said. "It was her second tour of duty. So, we had a bad feeling on this one. My husband and I tried to talk her out of it."
However, Donna wouldn't listen. She couldn't.
"It was something she had to do because it was her job and it was her calling," said Sandra.
Now, the family holds each other, remembering the good times. Donna Johnson loved life, and they loved life with her.
"She is national hero," said Sandra.
The family isn't sure yet when Donna's funeral will be held. Her remains are still at Dover Air Force Base.
However, Sandra Johnson said one thing is for sure. Her daughter will be buried in Raeford - the hometown she loved - with full military honors.