Family holds onto hope after Carolina Beach missing man’s boat found capsized 2,700 miles away


CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — This week, a mother is holding out hope for her missing son after his boat washed ashore more than 2,700 miles away from where he was last spotted.

Joseph Johnson went missing just a few days before Thanksgiving last year. A green beret, Johnson was a Special Ops soldier for more than 25 years. His mother, Mary Kay Anderson believes that could have helped him survive.

“I feel like I’m on call. And I’m just expecting the phone to ring at any time saying we’re returning your son back to the states,” Anderson said. “And I will be on the first flight out of Minnesota down to North Carolina.”

Joseph Johnson joined the army right out of high school. Anderson says he was brave and wanted badly to serve his country. He served multiple tours in the Middle East and South America.

“We called him our personal GI Joe,” Anderson smiled.

Just after 9/11, Johnsons was deployed to the Middle East. Even so, Anderson says she always knew her son would come home to her.

“Joe always came back I never worried while he was overseas, whether it was the Middle East of South America, because I knew that God had called him to serve his country in this way,” she said.

Johnson retired from the military in July 2020, settling down in Carolina Beach. It was there he was last see leaving Federal Point Yacht Club November 22 on his fishing boat, most likely headed to Frying Pan Shoals.

Law enforcement and the Coast Guard searched for days with no luck. Seven months later, Portuguese Police found Johnson’s boat washed ashore in the Azores. No personal items were found on board. Though authorities say the boat had long been capsized, Anderson believes her son is still alive.

“I feel as a mother that he was off of the boat before it capsized. Possibly on one of the islands. We’re believing and hoping that the authorities are going to continue the search.”

Anderson believes with more than two decades of special ops training, her son had the skills to survive. Just like his tours overseas, she believes he’ll come home to her again one day. In the meantime, Anderson journals every day to fill her son in when he comes back, wanting him to know through it all he was never forgotten and they never gave up. She can’t wait for that day.

“I’m just going to say how much I love him. And how much everyday how much we longed to see him again, and that we knew this day was going to happen.”

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