I wanted to share a story with you all that touched me greatly the last few days.  Have you ever had tears stream down your face for someone you have never met?  It's a humbling feeling and I'm not sure why, but I always have this feeling of "survivors remorse" when thinking about all those before me who have died to give me the liberty and freedom I have. Here is the story of of one of my hero's: Marine Sgt. Gary S Johnston.

Marine Sgt. Gary S. Johnston

Marine SGT Gary S. Johnston

I have never met Sgt. Johnston and have only met his parents in person once.  I have known them for over a year but only through FB.  Nubbin and his wife Angela are avid members of Journey 4 Justice (Texas 3) and deeply rooted in the Texas Patriot Guard.  Our first meeting was at the 2012 Journey 4 Justice National Rally in Topeka KS.

Angela and Nubbin Johnston

The biggest honor for me at that rally was when Nubbin presented me with his son's "ride pin."  Keep in mind that Gold Star families don't just hand this stuff out so to receive this from the Johnston's was an honor I can't describe but it immediately went on my vest and forever connected me with their son, Sgt. Gary S Johnston.

Marine Sgt. Gary S. Johnston

That brings me to the present. Sgt. Johnston was Killed In Action on January 23, 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom when he was struck by an IED in Iraq.

During the last couple of days, I have seen the Johnston family and their friends celebrate his life and I have been watching this with tears in my eyes and wanted to know more about this stranger who has affected me so much these past few days.

Sgt. Johnston was born in Wichita Falls Tx. He is survived by his parents, 2 sisters Holly and Sabrina and his nephew Ethan. Playing all sports as a kid he started shooting trap and skeet through Archer county 4-H and was even a member of the Amateur Trap Shooting Association winning numerous events across the country and was selected for the Texas State Memorial Trap Shooting Scholarship his Senior year.

Marine Sgt. Gary S. Johnston

He moved to Windthorst Texas and started the 6th grade there where he also participated in band, little league baseball, basketball and football. In high school, Sgt. Johnston participated in band, football, basketball, baseball and track and was had the highest batting average on the Trojan Baseball team for 3 consecutive years.  In football he was named to the all district team both offense and defense, made all state defense and made the Times Record News Red River 22 All Star Team on defense recording 91 tackles made from middle linebacker and defensive end positions. His peers also voted him MVP on both offense and defense and was also awarded the Dale Hoff Memorial Scholarship.

Marine Sgt. Gary S. Johnston

Sgt. Johnston enlisted in the Marine Corp a year out of high school.  It was something that he wanted to do for most of his life and with the attacks on 9/11 still fresh in his memory, he wanted to make a difference so his sisters and nephew would hot have to live in a state of fear.

After Sgt. Johnston became a Marine, he was stationed on Okinawa, Japan and selected to go to "reconnaissance" school. After recon school, he was attached to the 3rd Recon Battalion on Okinawa as a communications specialist and field radio operator.

Sgt. Johnston was then deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU)  touring the pacific which included Korea, Guam, Iwo Jima ( where he climbed to the top of Mt Suribachi feeling the presence of the men who had fought and died there) and the Philippines . His company was also involved in the humanitarian aid to the Philippine island mud slides where a rescue mission turned into a recovery.

Sgt. Johnston's platoon was also selected for the security detail of President Bush's Mongolia trip.

Sgt. Johnston's deployment with 3rd recon was going to be up in October of 2006, but he extended so he could be deployed with his Battalion to Iraq. While in Iraq Gary was dubbed the grey man, according to friend Sgt Bryan Ernst,

Gary was first at work and last to leave, he was very good at his job, very professional, he didn't need to be praised, he knew what he had done and that job satisfaction was all he needed. He was the hardest working individual that I have ever met. Gary with his slow mischievous grin, wit and drawl that could only come from a very proud Texan, gave us comfort and humor at all times.  I tried to expand his use of the english language by sending him a word of the day by e-mail and he would respond with a Texan word of the day. He was my brother who I will always miss and I will never forget him

Sgt. Johnston was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (posthumously with Combat Distinguishing Device).

The commendation states:

Heroic Achievement in the superior performance of his duties while serving as radio operator, 3rd Recon Battalion, Regimental combat team 5, 1st Marine Expeditionary force (forward) from sept 2006 to Jan 2007 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Sgt Johnston Demonstrated superb tactical skill in the conduct of numerous combat and security patrols in the Anbar Province of Iraq, when his team was pinned down by enemy fire he responded providing suppressive fire on the enemy's position and enabling positive command control between isolated recon elements. As a result of his fearless determination and competence, his team was able to extract with no injuries.  His selfless devotion to his fellow Marines was an inspiration to all and set a superb example of combat leadership. Sgt Johnston's initiative, perseverance and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service

Sgt. Johnston attained the rank of SGT on January 1st, 2007 after only being a Marine for 2 1/2 years; and just 22 days before his death. He lived a dream to be a U.S. Marine, to see the world and to make a difference, and he did just that, and much more.

Semper Fi Marine