FORSYTH, MT, USA U.S. Marines SGT, 2D CEB, (3D BN, 8TH MAR [REIN]), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN 01/27/2009
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, North Carolina, where he lived with his wife, 3-year-old stepson and 8-month-old daughter.
His parents 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.
“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.”
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.
He was escorted to his burial plot in Section 60 in Arlington National Cemetery- 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. Gunnery Sergeant William J. Dixon, the Marine Corps’ funeral director at Arlington, said
“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.”