KILLEEN, Texas — Sgt. James Gregory Johnston was laid to rest Monday at the First Baptist Church of Killeen.
Johnston, 24, died from injuries he sustained during small arms fire during combat operations on June 25 in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan.
Hundreds of people paid their respects to Sgt. Johnston today.
"He knew, when he got there and heard the sounds of the guns, he knew he was going to be the Soldier running towards them," Command Sgt. Maj. Dave Silva said.
Countless stories of Sgt. Johnston echoed inside the The First Baptist Church of Killeen, stories of bravery and ones that will make soldiers laugh for a long time.
One soldier, who served with him in Korea, said Sgt. Johnston was anything but quiet and while he took his job seriously, he always looked to make people laugh.
"One day we had to, I don't even remember what," he recalled. "He just laid down on the floor in protest and refused to move for 30 minutes."
Herbert Quinn, who traveled from Abilene, says he made the drive because some that Sergeant Johnston served with couldn't be in attendance. So, he is standing in for them.
"It kind of gets ya," Quinn said, tired heartbroken and at a loss for words, "I just feel sorry for them. I feel really bad. I don't know what else to say. It's emotional."
Colonel Brett Sylvia, in attendance today representing General Mark Milley, the Chief of Staff for the Army, said Johnston's love for country was above reproach.
"There's an old adage, an old Army adage that Soldier fights no because he hates what is in front of him," Col. Sylvia said. "but because he loves what is behind him. Jamie fought because he loved his family, because he loved this Army and because he loved this nation."
Florence Flowers, who never met Sgt. Johnston, spoke to the family, tears rolling down her face.
"We thank God for your husband, your son, all of you," she said as she looked around the room. "We're just glad to be here because we care."
The final man to speak during was Sgt. Johnston's father-in-law, his words, poignant, his voice cracking as he said his final goodbye.
"All I have to say is, he's not my son-in-law, he was my son. I loved him. I loved him dearly. I'll love you, forever," he said tapping the casket and wiping tears as he walked away.
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