The body of a Modesto Marine who died in an accident in Tulare County last week was brought home Tuesday.
Lance Cpl. Layne Johnson’s coffin was draped with an American flag at Sterling & Smith Funeral Home in Tulare; his hearse escorted by law enforcement to the Franklin & Downs Funeral Home in Modesto.
Also in the procession were fellow U.S. Marines, and the father of a Modesto Marine who was the first Stanislaus County resident killed in combat in Iraq in 2004.
Michael Anderson Sr. has helped coordinate processions for more than 15 local military families.
“Life is not set up to bury your kids,” he said. “I walked the same dark valley in the same shoes (Johnson’s father) does, and I am here shoulder to shoulder with him.”
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, received the body for Johnson’s family.
Johnson died early Nov. 18 when his car drifted off Highway 99 and hit a guardrail and pole.
He was on his way back from base in Twentynine Palms to be with his girlfriend, Kylee Halladay, in Fresno when he apparently fell asleep.
Halladay was expecting Johnson to return to Fresno around 3 a.m. and immediately became concerned when she awoke shortly before 5 a.m. to find he hadn’t arrived.
It’s not known what time Johnson crashed; the scene was cold when the wreckage was first discovered around 6 a.m.
Life is not set up to bury your kids.
Michael Anderson Sr., whose son died fighting in Iraq; Anderson helped support Layne Johnson’s family Tuesday
Johnson was an armorer in the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron unit. He enlisted in August 2014 after graduating from Enochs High School.
Johnson and Halladay were supposed to fly to Las Vegas on Thursday to attend a Marine Corps ball.
She went anyway, accompanied by Johnson’s father and two of his three brothers.
“It was very emotional, but it gave me some closure listening to all the stories about him and how he spoke of me to all his fellow Marines,” Halladay said.
She and Johnson’s family will attend a private memorial service Wednesday with his unit at the Twentynine Palms base.