Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sgt. Gary S. Johnston, USMC

Sergeant Gary S. Johnston, 21, USMC, died from a bomb blast while serving in combat on January 23, 2007 in the Al Anbar province of Iraq. Sgt. Johnson was assigned as a radio operator to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force Okinawa, Japan.

Gary Johnston was the son of Nubbin and Angela Johnston, dairy farmers from Windthorst, Texas, population 500. He graduated from Windhorst High School in 2003, where he played football, basketball, and baseball. He ran track, too. He played part of his senior football season with a broken arm. He was a shooter who had won various state championships in 4-H Shooting Sports and the Amateur Trap Shooting Association. He went to college for a while and then joined the Marines, a life-long dream.

His pal, Shawn Talley, said that you couldn't change him. Even if he was hurting on the inside, he was still smiling on the outside. His classmate, Chance Schroeder, says Gary was always there to help. If you needed a ride home, he'd come help.

The small town of Windthorst turned out for Gary in a big way, forming an eleven mile long funeral cortege, which passed through streets lined with American flags flying. There was no room graveside to accomodate all the mourners, so the Marines set up a video screen in the local municipal gym, packed with grim citizens. Even so, some people had to stand outside.

Fred Phelps and members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas listed Gary's funeral as one they would picket as part of their campaign against homosexuality in their vision of a doomed America. "Thank God For IEDs," said their fliers. The Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcyle club of veterans who block Phelps' indecent protests with their cycles, rode into town and put that outrage to rest to the town's relief.

Gary's sister, Sabrina, spoke at his funeral: "Whenever I would fall he would pick me up, wipe my face and tell me 'It's OK.' He was my best friend. He was my hero. I will miss him every day."

Nubbin Johnson said to a reporter later, "My brother died in vain in Vietnam. That won't happen to my son."

"You want to know why small-town America is losing so many of its people in Iraq? It's because small-town America still believes in this country, still believes in fighting for the freedom to worship whichever God you believe in. Our young men and women - like Gary - have been sacrificing their lives for this for 200 years. This is America."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tantor, thank you for such a good article about our son, it really lifts up our hearts to see the support and honor bestowed on Gary and our family, god speed on victory for our brave young soldiers,airmen,sailors and marines


Fri Apr 20, 10:55:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...


When I read your words about America, I thought they bore repeating. Your son is the epitome of America's best, fighting in Iraq. He did America proud and his example speaks well for you and your town.

Sat Apr 21, 02:19:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I went to school with Gary Johnson, I was a few years behind him,and one year behind his sister, however I have prayed for him and could not believe that he was gone. I belive that your community is amazing. I moved a long time ago, but I still believe that Windthorst was the best place I ever live because of the family environment you always encounter and how they take care of their own. I am so sorry for your loss.
Gary Johnson is our hero as well as all the soldiers there now. I worry about Ben M all the time. Good luck to you and all the soldiers risking their lives every day for ours!!!

Wed Jun 06, 01:42:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Art Connectors said...

Never forgotten, Rest in Peace, Gary

Tue Dec 06, 06:37:00 PM 2011  

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