Marine Lance Cpl. Larry M. Johnson
Died February 18, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
19, of Scranton, Pa.; assigned to the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Feb. 18 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
(The following was taken from citizensvoice.com of Feb. 28, 2010)Doubled over in grief, Johanna Thomas Johnson clutched a single red rose and an American flag as she leaned over the casket that held the body of her 19-year-old son, Lance Cpl. Larry M. Johnson.
Friends, family and dignitaries gathered at Divine Mercy Parish on Davis Street on Saturday to bid farewell to the slain Marine from South Scranton.
"He gave his life for this county and for freedom and for the way we live," said the Rev. Francis L. Pauselli, who served as principal celebrant. "He followed a dream, he became a Marine, and he served this county wonderfully and beautifully."
Johnson died Feb. 18 as a result of a hostile incident while conducting combat operations with the U.S. Marines in Helmand Province of Afghanistan, officials said. His body was laid to rest Saturday in Cathedral Cemetery, following a Mass of Christian Burial at the church.
Johnson's body traveled about 9,000 miles from Afghanistan to return to his home in Scranton, Pauselli said, but now the 19-year-old's soul is in "God's Kingdom," where there is "no more war, no more explosives, but only happiness and joy forever."
The young man was baptized and took his first Holy Communion in the same church, formerly known as St. Joseph's, so it's only fitting the Marine's casket lay in peace near the church's altar the night before his funeral, said Pauselli, who celebrated the Mass along with Diocese of Scranton Bishop-elect Monsignor Joseph Bambera and the Rev. Stephen Stavoy.
White-gloved hands clasped behind their backs, two Marines stood guard over Johnson's casket in the church, while a single pillar candle flickered above. At 10:30 a.m., the church bells began to toll and two other Marines stepped forward, saluted one another, and began to fold the flag that had been draped over Johnson's casket.
Johanna Johnson, 43, wept throughout her son's funeral. The family sat close together, comforting one another with heads bowed amid sobs.
During the sign of peace - normally a time when handshakes are exchanged during Mass - the Johnson family instead embraced on another. Fellow mourners clutched tissues in their fists and blotted their tears.
The eulogy was given by Johnson's sister Ashley Johnson, 21, and Jeff Whitney, Johanna Johnson's boyfriend, whom Larry viewed as a stepfather.
"Larry is the child I never had," Whitney said. "He is the best stepson any man could ever ask for."
Whitney remembered a child who was always concerned about animals, loved drawing and music and, most of all, his family.
"Larry always worried about his whole entire family," Whitney said, "but the love for his mother was unconditional."
At one point, Whitney said he was concerned Larry was choosing the wrong path in life.
"I had faith that it would change, and it did," Whitney said.
The young man he considered a son was proud to be a Marine. Johnson enlisted in October 2008, the same year he graduated from Scranton High School. Larry became a lance corporal on Dec. 1 and was trained as a combat engineer whose job was to seek and destroy improvised explosive devices.
"Last but not least, Lance Cpl. Larry Michael Johnson gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and his county," Whitney said.
As the Scranton High School Advanced Chorus sang "God Bless the U.S.A." a slideshow played on television screens in the church with images of the flag and military personnel. The slideshow ended with Johnson's photograph and the entire crowd of about 350 on its feet.
Attendees included U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty and state Rep. Kevin Murphy, D-Scranton.
At the cemetery, Johnson received full military honors, including a three-volley rifle salute. Two Marines presented American flags that had covered Johnson's casket to his mother and his father, Larry Johnson.
Taps rang out, then one by one, members of Johnson's family approached his casket to place a red rose on the smooth gray surface.
"I love you," Johanna Johnson said, leaning down to kiss her son's casket, her voice that of a mother whose heart has been broken.