FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- The Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders traveled across the Sooner State before arriving at the Arkansas border Saturday (August 8) to pass on the remains of a Marine who recently died in California.
Riders across several states worked together to return Staff Sgt. Johnathan Turner's ashes to his mother in Georgia, who could not make the trip to California to get them.
“I need the family to know that you are not alone and we care,” rider Asha Lamy said.
Staff Sgt. Turner served seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Marine Corps and recently died from combat-related issues, according to the Patriot Guard Riders website.
"We did this primarily because his mother was unable to attend the services," Oklahoma Patriot Guard Riders Captain David Noble said. "And he had been cremated and we did not want him to go home in a Fed Ex box."
Some of the rider went out of their way to be a part of the trip.
“I got on the road at 6 last night out of Huntsville, Alabama and I rode over to Oklahoma,” Lamy said.
After Turner's ashes had gone through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, the riders paused for a brief ceremony in Tuner's honor at a rest stop on Interstate-40 just over the Arkansas state line from Oklahoma.
“The Arkansas Patriot Guard Riders are proud to receive Staff Sgt. Johnathan Turner, United States Marine Corps. It will be an honor and a privilege to escort him on his journey home,” Norm Breth, Road Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders of Arkansas, said during the ceremony.
Once the remains were in safe possession of the Arkansas Patriot Guard Riders, it was time to ride.
“We will do it. We will accomplish the mission,” Breth said. “Because that is what it is. The mission is to get Staff Sgt. Turner from California to his mother's arms so that she can be at ease that he is home.”
On Saturday night, his remains were handed off to the Tennessee Patriot Guard, according to Breth. Riders spent the night in Memphis and the ashes were handed off to the Mississippi Patriot Guard in the morning. Wayne Markham of the Patriot Guard Riders of Georgia said he presented Turner’s mother with his remains Sunday night.