U. S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 063-09
January 28, 2009
DoD Identifies Marine Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two Marines who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
The following Marines died January 27, 2009, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan:
Sergeant David W. Wallace III, 25, of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania
Sergeant Trevor J. Johnson, 23, of Forsyth, Montana
The Marines were assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
29 January 2009:
BILLINGS, Montana – Parents and friends of a Montanan killed while on patrol in Afghanistan this week describe the 23-year-old sergeant as “the perfect Marine” and a loving father to two children.
Trevor J. Johnson was a fifth-generation rancher who grew up south of Forsyth near Colstrip. He was killed Tuesday in an explosion in Helmand province. His parents, Colleen and Thomas Johnson, say their son was leading a foot patrol charged with clearing a route of explosives when he was struck by the blast from an improvised explosive device.
An engineer in the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Johnson was based at Camp Lejeune, Nnorth Carolina, where he lived with his wife, 3-year-old stepson and 8-month-old daughter. His father says Johnson will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A memorial service is planned in Colstrip.
29 January 2009:
BILLINGS, Montana – A Sergeant killed this week in Afghanistan was described Thursday as a country boy from a cattle ranch who grew up to become “the perfect Marine” and a loving father to two children.
Trevor J. Johnson, 23, was a fifth-generation rancher who grew up south of Forsyth near Colstrip. He was killed Tuesday in an explosion in Helmand province.
His parents, Colleen and Thomas Johnson, said their son was leading a foot patrol charged with clearing a route of explosives when he was struck by the blast from an improvised explosive device.
They said their son, who joined the Marines right out of high school, routinely took the point position on patrols during his three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It was never about him. It was always about the guys in the unit with him,” Colleen Johnson said.
A second Marine from Camp Lejeune, Sergeant David Wallace of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, also was killed Tuesday. Wallace's mother said her son was killed in an explosion, but it was unclear if the two deaths were related.
A Marine spokesman, Lieutenant Philip Klay, said no additional details were available.
Johnson was an engineer with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He is survived by his wife, Nicole, a 3-year-old stepson, Landan, and the couple's 8-month-old daughter, Aspyn.
“He was such a great dad, and just before he deployed he made sure there was new playset out in the backyard for his two kids,” Colleen Johnson said.
Johnson's fellow Marines had nicknamed him “Hollywood,” in part because he had been called up on stage during a USO show in Iraq that featured the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, his mother said.
Johnson's grandfathers had both served in the military, and he decided he would follow in their footsteps while still a young boy, his parents said.
That future was sealed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, his father said. After that day, Thomas Johnson said his son adopted a personal slogan: “I can defend those who can't defend themselves.”
When he was a junior at Colstrip High School, his parents took Johnson to visit at least seven universities and vocational programs, hoping he would pick a different path. But they said their son was insistent and joined the Marines within months of graduating.
Terry Taylor, a Vietnam veteran and friend of the Johnsons who owns a hardware store in Colstrip, had counseled Trevor on life in the military before the 18-year-old was shipped off to boot camp.
“He was, in my opinion, the perfect Marine,” Taylor said. “He had the chiseled good looks, he had the athletic ability, he had the intelligence, he had the courage and he had the heart to do it … But he was still Trevor Johnson, a country boy from Rosebud County.”
Johnson was promoted to Sergeant at age 20 and received numerous awards for his service and conduct. He had planned to enroll at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the fall to seek an engineering degree, and then return to the military, his mother said.
Johnson was the 34th service member from Montana to die in Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the office of Governor Brian Schweitzer.
He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
A memorial service is planned in Colstrip, his father said.
Courtesy of The Montana Standard:
MISSOULA, Montana — When Marine Corps Sergeant Trevor J. Johnson of Forsyth is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Tuesday, a small symbol of the fallen soldier's ranching roots will help get him there.
It seems only appropriate that Johnson — a fifth-generation Montanan who grew up riding horses, herding cattle and fixing fences — be escorted to his burial plot by Lonesome, a black mustang who used to roam Montana's prairies and forested trails.
Lonesome is one of 52 horses in the Caisson Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. For seven years, the mustang has helped pull the caisson at 500 military funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, assuming one of two lead spots on a six-horse team.
Prior to his mission out East, however, Lonesome lived in Montana.
How Lonesome came to assist in Johnson's burial ceremony on Tuesday took some forethought and initiative by a generous Montanan, who although he never met Johnson, wanted the Marine's family to have a symbol of the state as they mourned the loss of their loved one so many, many miles from home.
“I felt so bad for his family,” said Mark Sant, an archaeologist from Silver Star, just south of Butte. “He's just a young ranch kid. He seemed to have liked horses as much as I do.” All Sant knew about the Colstrip High School graduate was what he read in the newspaper after his death. Johnson, 23, a decorated Marine, died from a roadside bomb on January 27, 2009 while serving in Afghanistan.
Johnson was a father, son and husband. A memorial service for him was held February 7, 2009 at the family ranch southeast of Forsyth. Six hundred people attended.
When Sant read that Johnson would be buried at Arlington, he contacted Governor Brian Schweitzer's office to seek help finding Lonesome — a horse he had donated to the military several years earlier.
One of Schweitzer's aides contacted the Montana National Guard, which in turn contacted the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or Old Guard, which assists in burial services at Arlington National Cemetery.
It's not a request the Old Guard hears often, but one that was easy to oblige, said Major Steven Cole.
“It's stories like this that shows the depths of care that all Americans have for their service men and women,” Cole said. “It took someone saying, ‘Can we do this?' and Chief (Anthony) Direnzo saying, ‘No problem.' ” Lonesome was born in a Bureau of Land Management holding facility in Montana.
Both his sire, a black mustang, and his dam, a paint from Nevada, were among several mustangs repossessed by the BLM from someone with inadequate holding facilities.
A BLM law enforcement officer first adopted Lonesome before Sant bought him several years later.
“He was a good-looking horse,” said Sant, describing Lonesome as hardy and strong with tough feet. “I know a lot of people who don't even have to shoe mustangs.” Sant owned several other horses but had always wanted a mustang. He took Lonesome into the Pioneers and the other mountains hunting, packing and trail riding for several years. Except, the horse grew too big for recreational activities, Sant said.
When Lonesome was 7, Sant donated him to the Old Guard.
“I thought it'd be a great honor for him to work at Arlington,” he said.
24 February 2009:
He was laid to rest nearly 2,000 miles across the country from his hometown of Colstrip, but Marine Sergeant Trevor J. Johnson's Montana roots were ever present as he was buried with full military honors Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Johnson, 23, was killed January 27, 2009, by a roadside bomb in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
He was escorted to his burial plot in Section 60 – the area of Arlington where casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried – by Lonesome, a Montana-born mustang and the lead horse pulling the funeral caisson.
It was a fitting burial for Johnson, who grew up on a ranch southeast of Forsyth and joined the United States Marine Corps at the age of 17, while he was still in high school. His wife, Nikki Johnson; their two children, 3-year-old son Landon and 8-month-old daughter Aspyn; and his parents, Tom and Colleen Johnson, were among the 100 or so people in attendance.
Gunnery Sergeant William J. Dixon, the Marine Corps' funeral director at Arlington, said the services lasted about an hour and were attended by about 40 other Montanans, including Democratic Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester. Some of those Montanans, he said, did not know the Johnson family but were in the area and “heard we were burying a Marine” and decided to attend.
“That was really, really touching,” Dixon said.
The services included a private viewing for family and friends at a funeral home, a procession led by the President's Marine Band, and Lonesome pulling Johnson's caisson. A Purple Heart ceremony was held in his honor, 21 shots were fired – the shell casings of which were presented to his family – and American flags were given to Nikki and Tom Johnson.
“We weren't weakened today,” Dixon said. “We laid to rest one of our warriors. Today was a little bit more special. This horse from Montana brought one of Montana's residents to rest. That, to me, was honorable.”
On February 7, a memorial for Johnson was held on the family ranch. It drew about 600 people and also included a procession led by Marines and a horse. That time, it was a riderless horse named Pecos that Johnson rode when he was younger.
JOHNSON, TREVOR JERIMIAH
SGT US MARINE CORPS
- DATE OF BIRTH: 02/08/1985
- DATE OF DEATH: 01/27/2009
- BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 8752
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard