Diane Johnson says she believes her 3-year-old son, Wesley, will never forget his father.

"Whatever Dewey did, Wesley did with him," she said. "If Dewey fixed the lawnmower, Wesley fixed it with him. He adored Dewey and followed him everywhere."

Marine Staff Sgt. Dewey L. Johnson, 31, died in May in Iran's Great Salt Desert. Seven other American military crewmen died with him after the attempted rescue of the American hostages was scrapped.

Johnson was crew chief on a Navy RH53 Sea Stallion helicopter, a job his wife says he loved.

She said she believes President Carter handled the rescue attempt to the best of his ability.

But she says that if she had known hr husband was to participate in the aborted raid, she probably would have asked him not to go.

"I would have ben concerned for myself and the children," she said. "And I think I would have said 'Don't go.'

"And he'd have gone anyway. He had more courage than I have."

For his wife, the fiery crash that took Johnson's life has meant finding a new life for herself, their son and their daughter, LeeAnn, 9.

She returned to Laurens County in July, has bought a home how to be the breadwinner."

And she has faced a more recent crisis. Early this month she under-went surgery for removal of a kidney stone. And last month leeAnn broke her arm while skating in the drive-way.

"It has been one thing after another for us," Johnson said, watching Wesley tumble on the carpet with a puppy. "We've had a lot of help, though. My brother Gene [Gailard] has been my mainstay since Dewey died."

Hundreds of sympathy letters, one of them from a hostage, have helped her through here sorrow. "They're still coming," she said. "I look forward to my mail."

Johnson's entire squadron, Squadron 461, turned up at the family residence after his funeral, a gesture that meant much to her.

"He loved the military and he was more married to that '53' helicopter than he was to me," she said. "He was a father figure to his men, and they looked up to him and trusted him."

He had planned to make a career of military service.