Community honors fallen Tomball Marine

May 18, 2010 3:34:57 PM PDT
Tuesday was a somber day as the body of Marine Corporal Jeffrey Johnson was returned to his hometown of Tomball. Johnson's flag-draped casket arrived at Tomball Jet Center at around 1:30pm, where it was met by a Marine honor guard, and prepared for a very special motorcade.

The plane carrying the body of Cpl. Johnson landed to a salute from the Tomball Fire Department, a sea of people holding the red, white and blue in his honor and a grieving family and community.

"You feel the pride, and you feel the sorrow, but the dedication of these young men and women to protect our freedom, that's something that's just amazing," said Tomball Mayor Gretchen Fagan.

Cpl. Johnson died in the line of duty in Afghanistan on May 11, killed by an IED in a province where some of the worst fighting with the Taliban rages. He was just 21 years old. But at home, he is remembered by family members and community leaders alike.

"The loss of Jeffrey is a tremendous loss to this community," said Rep. Michael McCaul of Tomball. "This community has really come out with an overwhelming outpouring of support and love for the family."

The crowd stood at attention as Cpl. Johnson's flag-draped casket was lowered from the jet and saluted by Marines. And from Hooks Airport to the funeral home in Tomball, Cpl. Johnson was accompanied by a motorcade and dozens of volunteers on motorcycles from the Patriot Guard Riders, who say this is their way of supporting the war effort.

"We're trying to honor the fallen," said Michael Hancock with the Patriot Guard Rider. "He gave the ultimate sacrifice, and we need to come in a give our thanks."

The townspeople lined the procession's route to the funeral. It was all to say goodbye to the hometown boy who paid the ultimate price for his country.

"Being in the Navy, and serving the country and these guys are over fighting for us, we need to have a lot more of this," said Larry Fielders, who came out to honor Cpl. Johnson.

Cpl. Johnson enlisted in 2007, and according to the Patriot Guard Riders, he leaves behind a wife, a father, a mother, a stepmother and two siblings.

On Monday, the Department of Defense announced that another Marine, Petty Officer Zarian Wood of Houston, died while in serving in Afghanistan. Officials say he was killed by an IED while on patrol on Sunday.


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