The cremated remains of retired Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Jonathan Turner finally returned home to College Park on Sunday, following a cross-country journey back to Georgia. The 41-year-old veteran served seventeen years with the USMC, seeing duty in seven tours between Afghanistan and Iraq. Turner retired in 2014 and died recently from combat-related issues in California where he was living.
Unfortunately, his family in College Park could not afford to fly to California to receive his remains. That's when the California Patriot Guard Riders stepped in to help.
"The California Patriot Guard Riders contacted all of the state captains from California to Georiga and explained the situation, that it wasn't proper to ship this war hero home via FedEx," said Jeff Goodiel of the Georgia Patriot Guard Riders. Within days, a convoy was assembled with each state's Patriot Guard Riders driving Turner's cremated remains across their state and then passing those remains off to the next group of riders.
"It's heartwarming, to see all these people here," said Annie Glanton, Turner's mother, "I know that he was loved by a lot of people."
The trip started last Tuesday and ended Sunday. Organizers say it was the longest mission of its kind, dubbed a "Pony Express." The operation involved hundreds of volunteers spanning more than 2,000 miles.