Shirt Off Back Grants Dying Man's Final Wish

By: Aaron Luna Email
By: Aaron Luna Email

A small plaque marks the grave where Marine Veteran Jack E. Johnson now rests. His daughter Tarisa Dunn says, about her father, "He felt like all Marines young and old were family."

Johnson’s family buried their father a little more than two weeks ago. Dunn says, "Even though we're not actually in the service we grew up in it and we consider ourselves the Marines also."

Johnson served in the Marines for 20 years, making two tours in Vietnam. Before his death Johnson told his family he wanted just one thing. Johnson’s other daughter Sandie Soma says, "That was the only thing he asked, was to be buried in his dress blues."

The problem was Johnson no longer owned a set of dress blues. Soma and her brother looked all over town with little success, until they walked into the Marine recruiter’s office in Grand Junction and met Sergeant Craig Walker.

Walker says, "A lot of times it's not just a Marine that's in the Marine Corp it's a family too." Soma asked sergeant walker if he knew where they could buy a set of Marine dress blues.
"I knew at that point in time I either act and take care of the situation or otherwise they wouldn't have got it," says, Walker. Walker immediately got up, walked to his locker and gave Soma his own set of dress blues, gloves included. "My brother and I were both speechless at the time, it was... we went out and sat in the car and cried," says Soma.

Johnson was buried in Grand Junction on April 15th, in Marine dress blues. Dunn "This man didn't know my father." But Walker gave him a message anyway.

Dunn says Walker told her, "Tell your dad I said Semper Fi, and he will understand."
Walker says, "Its Latin for always faithful and that's how we are for each other, to our country, to our corp."

For his part Sergeant Walker was awarded the Outstanding Citizen Award by the Military Families of America. For his unselfish gift from one Marine to another.


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