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Body of Fort Hood soldier killed in Afghanistan returns to Texas

The body of Sgt. James G. Johnston, who died in combat June 25 in Afghanistan, is carried from a plane to a hearse during a ceremony Friday at Robert Gray Army Airfield at Fort Hood, Texas. His family wore Hawaiian shirts in the soldier's honor.

ROSE L. THAYER/STARS AND STRIPES

By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 5, 2019

FORT HOOD, Texas — Sunshine and strong winds bore down on family and soldiers gathered at Robert Gray Army Airfield on Friday as the remains of Sgt. James Gregory Johnston returned to Texas in preparation for his burial.

The family of Johnston, who died June 25 in a close-quarters firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan, stood with soldiers of the 79th Ordnance Battalion, Johnson’s unit, to honor the fallen soldier.

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During the ramp ceremony, which is held at the airfield when the remains of a servicemember arrive or depart a location, Johnston’s flag-draped casket was lowered from a chartered plane and carried to a hearse. A military police escort led the vehicle off-post where members of the central Texas community waited with flags and salutes.

Johnston’s family, including his pregnant widow Krista Johnston, wore Hawaiian-style shirts to the ceremony, because the soldier loved the colorful button-down shirts. On Instagram, there are more than 272 posts using the hashtag #hawaiianshirtsforjj as a way to honor the fallen soldier. 

Johnston, 24, was explosive ordnance disposal technician from Trumansburg, N.Y. Burial is scheduled for Monday at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen. 

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thayer.rose@stripes.com
Twitter: @Rose_Lori

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Army Sgt. James G. Johnston was one of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan on June 25, 2019.
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