Arkansan Laid to Rest

April 16, 2003
Posted at: 1:50 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Photographs and mementoes from the life of Navy medic Michael Vann Johnson Junior greeted mourners today as they gathered for his funeral.

Johnson was the lone Arkansan killed in action in Iraq. The 25-year-old was struck by shrapnel from a grenade as he tended to a wounded Marine on March 25th.

At Agape Church in Little Rock this morning, an American flag hung from a casket near the front of the sanctuary.

His mother, Jana Norfleet, asked in an open prayer why her son was taken from her at such a youn age.

She said: ``I'd like to think you took Michael while he was at his greatest performance in life. He had a very honorable job. He indeed did his job, so I must let him go.''

Johnson's best friend, Billy Sandoval, recalled Johnson's dedication to his job and the time they spent together playing basketball while stationed together in San Diego, California.

'`We are one big family and we have lost a brother," Sandoval said. "Michael Vann Johnson Junior is my superhero.''

US senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and Congressman Vic Snyder attended the services but did not speak.

Meanwhile at the state Capitol, Governor Huckabee has ordered the flags flown at half-staff in honor of Johnson.

At the Arkansas Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock, sailors fired a 21-gun salute as the flag and a posthumous Purple Heart Award were presented to Johnson's widow.

His casket was on display and was to be burned later in another section of the cemetery.

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