Oklahoma Patriot Guard Escorts Marine's Ashes On Trip Home To Georgia
TULSA, Oklahoma - Oklahoma's Own helped a Marine reach his final resting place.
U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Jonathan Turner enlisted in 1998 and served seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before he medically retired. He died last week in California from combat-related issues.
His mother lives in Georgia and his Marine family in California made arrangements for his services.
When the nonprofit Patriot Guard Riders heard his ashes were to be mailed home, the group decided to organize a chain of motorcycle riders across the country to give his remains a more dignified final trip home.
They planned a nationwide funeral escort so Turner could be in his mother's arms once again.
"We did this primarily because his mother was unable to attend the services, and he had been cremated and we didn't want him to go home in a Fed Ex box,” Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders Capt. David Noble said.
Some riders went out of their way to be a part of the trip.
“I got on the road at 6 o'clock [Friday] night out of Huntsville, Alabama and I rode over to Oklahoma,” Asha Lamy said. “I need the family to know that you’re not alone and we care."
Riders say Turner's remains went through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, then Oklahoma. Riders from Oklahoma took Turner through the Sooner State to the Arkansas border on Saturday, where they handed him off to the next group of riders.
At a rest stop near the border on Interstate 40, they paused for a brief ceremony.
When the journey comes to an end, Turner's remains will have passed through seven states.
According to the Patriot Guard's website, "Turner was a great leader who inspired his fellow Marines, both in the Corps and in daily life. You were his friend if you knew him for five minutes or five years. He would give you the shirt off his back."
Turner loved riding his motorcycle, so the escort from the Patriot Guard was extra meaningful, friends said.
Riders are expected to arrive at Turner’s mother’s house in Georgia on Sunday night.
Patriot Guard national website
[Note: The Patriot Guard did not publicize the nationwide escort ahead of time in order to maintain a level of safety for the riders.]