When veterans and their families live far apart, there are times when those who are tied together by blood are unable to attend a funeral service or afford to travel to accompany a fallen hero’s remains home.
In one such circumstance, a USMC veteran of 17 years died on the west coast while his mother lived on the east coast and he was slated to be sent home via a commercial parcel delivery service.
A group of dedicated patriots felt this was a disrespectful way to treat someone who had given their life to their country, so they arranged a remarkable event to set things right.
10. A Reluctant Medical Retirement
Sargeant Jonathan Turner joined the military at the age of 23 and devoted over 17 years of his life to serving his country in the Marines. Jonathan would have willingly served longer if it were not for the fact he was medically retired in 2014 as a result of injuries received in service.
9. An Outstanding Military Record
Turner’s most recent attachment was to the 11th Marines out of Camp Pendleton, the major west coast Marine Corps. base, in San Diego County, South California. He had also served an incredible seven deployments in Iraq and Afganistan where he was considered to be “a great leader who inspired his fellow Marines, both in the Corps and in daily life.”
In light of that glowing record, you won’t believe what was going to happen to this hero’s remains.
8. How He Lived
It was Turner’s dedication to those he served with that contributed to his untimely death. Turner suffered from a kidney disorder and a stomach affliction, in addition to hypertension, insomnia, and depression and had been on antidepressants for several years. Despite his personal illness and struggles, he remained a source of support for his Marine brothers.
7. How He Died
When he heard of the death by suicide of a Marine Veteran friend, Jonathan blamed himself, feeling he should have seen how depressed his brother in arms had been. This unnecessary guilt was the final blow to a man who was already struggling with his own mental health.
The night after he heard about the death, Turner succumbed to his illness and took his own life.
6. A Shocking Indignity
Turner’s family lives in Georgia and were unable to afford the cost of cross-country travel to either attend his funeral or to collect the urn holding his remains. Turner’s Marine family arranged his funeral, but the only way to have his final resting place be with his family was to ship his urn by Fed-Ex.
That’s when a group of patriots stepped in to right this wrong.
5. Patriots Step In
At this point, the Patriot Guard Riders stepped in. The group honors fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans by attending their funerals and at the request of the family, supplying an honor guard and providing a shield from protesters. The group covers the entire country with State Captains coordinating events.
4. Finally, Some Respect
To prevent Turner from suffering the indignity of making his final journey in the back of a shipping truck, the Patriot Guard Riders coordinated an epic cross-country relay to carry his remains from California and deliver them directly to his mother’s hands in his hometown of College Park, Georgia.
3. A Last Minute Plan
Turner’s Marine family organized and paid for his funeral, and after the PGR had attended the service, they formed an honor guard to accompany his ashes home. This guard was organized in a matter of hours, and in recognition of Turner’s sacrifice, the PGR held a ceremony every time his ashes were handed over to a new group of riders.
2. A Country’s Love
Turner’s remains spent five days going through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas before arriving in his childhood home. His final journey was over 2,000 miles by motorcycle, and since Turner loved riding his own motorcycle, the escort from the Patriot Guard was extra meaningful, friends said.
1. A Fitting End
At the end of the journey, Turner’s mother, Annie Glanton, had her son’s ashes placed directly into her hands by the last Patriot Guard rider. “It’s heartwarming, to see all these people here.” said Johnathan’s mom “I know that he was loved by a lot of people.”