FORT STEWART, Ga. -Sergeant Johnny Wayne Lumpkin loved his wife, Carol; he loved his cat, Gammy; and he loved fixing things. He was known to those close to him as "Big Country," and was, as his wife said, "unapologetically loud, proud and country."
Sergeant Lumpkin, 38, died in Taji, Iraq, July 2, of wounds sustained when he was injured repairing equipment on a radar tower. He was honored at Fort Stewart, when the 434th tree was dedicated at Warriors Walk in his honor, Aug. 19.
Sergeant Lumpkin, 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, is survived by his wife Carol, his son, Brandon Welch, 19, and two stepchildren, Tyler and Brittany Laborde. Sergeant Lumpkin joined the Army in 2003, at the age of 31, to - in his words - provide a better life for his Family.
"Sergeant Johnny Wayne Lumpkin made a choice when he was 31; he chose to leave his job of many years in the fabric business and leave his Columbus, Ga., hometown and join the Army - an Army at war," Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general-rear, said at the ceremony. "Certainly for a man in his thirties and just married, such a choice was a path less traveled by. But for Johnny Lumpkin, this was the way he would take."
His wife stood by his side, an "Army brat" herself, and said she was happy when her husband made the decision to join to military.
"I was happy when he told me that he'd talked to my dad, quit his job at Leon's Fabrics [in Columbus, Ga.], and was joining the Army," Carol said. "I was so happy because that's what I'm used to - the Army."
Sergeant Lumpkin served as a FireFinder Radar Operator.
"He was a natural as it turns out; he loved the smell of oil, steel, exhaust and machinery that perfume the air of a garage or motor pool," said Brig. Gen. Phillips. "Tearing down and then - with respectable success - rebuilding engines was a source of happiness, as was adjusting brakes, installing exhaust systems and generally making things that had otherwise not worked so well, function smoothly."
Sergeant Lumpkin was on his second tour to Iraq at the time of his death, which occurred just one day before he and Carol's ninth wedding anniversary.
His wife said that his last words to her, in an e-mail the day before their anniversary were "I love you baby, I can't wait to see you."
For Carol, seeing the honor her husband received at Warriors Walk helps her go on.
"I'm thankful for everyone coming; my husband always thought about other people before himself, and that's what keeps me going," she said. "I'm very proud of him; he's my hero."
As the 434th tree was dedicated in front of Family, friends and fellow Soldiers, ensures that Sgt. Johnny Wayne Lumpkin will always be remembered for his sacrifice to our nation.
"The road taken by Sergeant Johnny Wayne Lumpkin back in 2003 - just after he had married - led through a life rich in happiness and fulfillment, a life apparently of no regret, a life worth having turned for," said Brig. Gen. Phillips. "It was a life of love and friendship and principled service to something greater. Johnny Lumpkin's way brought work that fulfilled; it brought Family that loved; it brought service that freed others."