By Vince Little, The BayonetJuly 24, 2009
COLUMBUS, Ga. - Army SPC Isaac "Chip" Johnson, a Georgia National Guardsman from Columbus killed in Afghanistan earlier this month, was laid to rest Friday.
Johnson was one of four Soldiers who died July 6 when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle in Konduz, Afghanistan. The 2003 Spencer High School graduate had been assigned to the Rome-based 1st Battalion, 108th Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron. He was 24.
Another Georgia native, SGT Brock Chavers, 25, of Bulloch, also was killed in the attack, according to the Defense Department. He belonged to 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, out of Americus.
More than 400 people attended Johnson's funeral at the Cusseta Church of Christ, the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reported. He was buried at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery in Alabama.
"This young man has rendered great service to our country," minister Elliott Glasgow said, according to the newspaper. "It is better to die for something than to live for nothing."
Johnson's body was flown to Columbus Metropolitan Airport via charter jet on July 16. About 30 family members and friends openly wept as his flag-draped casket emerged from the plane and was lowered to the tarmac.
Members of a motorcycle group called the Patriot Guard Riders brandished American flags, stood at attention and saluted. They later escorted the hearse to a local funeral home.
Two dozen Soldiers, including an honor guard from Fort Gillem, Ga., also attended the somber homecoming.
"It's good to know the Soldiers are behind him,"said SGT Sam Bennett of the honor guard detail. "We're one big family."
Bennett has taken part in about 10 returns involving U.S. troops killed in the war on terrorism and it's always a powerful experience, he said.
"We honor the fallen Soldiers. It's what we do," he said. "It's hard to see something like that happen to a 24-year-old, but he died for our country and our freedom."
"It's very emotional (but) someone has to honor these Soldiers. We don't want to forget them."