Thursday, April 1, 2010

SPC E. J. Johnston, United States Army National Guard

E. J. Johnston was born November 10, 1991 at Round Rock, Texas and passed away on March 25, 2010 at Austin, Texas.

E. J. attended Liberty Hill, Texas High School and was scheduled to graduate in May, 2010.  He enlisted in the U. S. Army National Guard at age 17 and dreamed of one day becoming a combat medic and a doctor.  He had completed his basic training and was awaiting assignment to Advanced Individual Training.  In the mean while, he was training at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas.

While a senior in high school, he was a member of the Honor Society, ran on the Cross-Country Track Team, was on the Tennis Team and participated in Track and Field.  He was active in a variety of academic activities and had received many awards and honors for excellence.

His mother took him to her native Philippines as a boy and he looked forward to returning there, someday, to help the needy.

On March 13, E. J. had spent the day in training at Camp Mabry and was headed home, to Liberty Hill, when he was involved in a horrific traffic collision which left him comatose with a severe head injury.  He was in the intensive care unit at Breckenridge Hospital in Austin until he passed away on March 25 with his family at bedside.

E.J. was an organ donor and his heart has provided life to another.

Funeral Mass was held on March 31 at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, in Cedar Park, Texas, which he had attended regularly, at 10:30 AM.  Present to honor this fallen soldier were Patriot Guard Riders from all over central Texas.  They formed lines of American flags to welcome the continual flow of arriving family, classmates and fellow soldiers.  At ten minutes prior to the commencement of Mass, the silver casket, draped with an American flag, was removed from the hearse and carried into the church by an Army Honor Guard of six soldiers.  The Patriot Guard Riders formed a pathway of American flags through which the casket was carried.

At the appointed time for Mass, the church bell heralded the commencement of the service.

At the conclusion of the one hour Mass, the casket was returned to the hearse by the Honor Guard, while the Riders stood at attention and saluted.

The Riders then lead the procession of scores of vehicles to the Liberty Hill Cemetery, just a few miles west of where E. J. attended high school.

The many grieving family, friends and soldiers huddled around the tent covered grave site as final prayers were said.  The priest led the gathering in the Lord’s Prayer. 

The citation awarding E. J. the Army Commendation Medal was read aloud.

Full military honors were rendered by the Army Honor Guard.  A rifle detail fired three volleys of fire representing Honor, Duty and Country.  The Army bugler played taps, as the family wept.  The flag which had covered the casket was folded into a tight triangle by two white gloved soldiers and presented  to E. J.’s mother by LTC Greg Chaney of the Texas Army National Guard.

To conclude the graveside services, there was a ceremonial release of White Doves.  A single white dove was held in the hands of the family and  released into the clear blue sky.  This dove represented E. J.'s spirit.  It was followed by the release of three additional doves from a white chapel, representing The Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As the doves circled the sky, they were joined by the spirit dove and began their spiritual flight home.

SPC E. J. Johnston was then laid to rest under a live oak tree in the Texas Hill Country.

Left to cherish his memory are his mother and father, a brother, his maternal grandmother, his girlfriend, with whom he had made plans for the future,  and many other loving family and friends.  He is survived by a large and loving family in the United States and the Philippines. 

With thanks to the Austin American-Statesman, and Radio Free Liberty Hill for biographical information.


  1. This is beyond our expectations. It's overwhelming. This makes our country great to have people like you. I love you guys. Thank you for your sympathy and support.

    The Johnston

  2. It is beautiful--none of us will ever forget him and all he stood for--in a world seemingly over-saturated with those who only look out for their own selfish wants, EJ stands out like a beacon of love and morality--he was--and is--a young man among men--God loves him.
    Sally & Mike

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  4. Tess - I just wanted you to know that I still think of you and your loving family each and every day - I really do. E.J. was a good soldier and a good son - i pray that I am able to raise my sons as you did and do yours. Being in the hospital and at his side while we moved him to his resting place here on earth was the hardest thing I have ever had to do - as a soldier I never expected to have to do it - thank you for helping me help you through such a difficult time. The tears still come as a mom and and as a soldier for your loss - I feel it daily as you do - and I share his story with other soldiers so that they can learn from E.J. and me. I just needed you to know - I still think of you and and your family and most of all the memories of E.J. SSG Adams