And the Patriot Guard Riders were on hand to make the experience even more memorable.
Revving engines signaled the Patriot Guard Riders to do what they do best.
Nubbin & Angela Johnston
Gold Star Parents
"This is small-town America. You know? It don't get better than this. And you know, these -- these young men are heroes."
This mission: Say "welcome home" to LCpl Jerod Mankins -- and escort him to Windthorst High School, to surprise his younger brother, Derek.
LCpl Jerod Mankins
Returned From Afghanistan
"It really was a great thing to come home to. I loved it."
Now, the brothers are reunited -- after about a year apart.
Windthorst High School Junior
"I mean, a lot of praying going on - but whenever he got the call & I got to hear his voice -- I remember back n the playoffs, I got to talk to him right after one of our football games. I mean, it just made my day!! We won the game, but *that* made my day."
"I love him, & he's a great kid. I try & teach him what I can."
"My brother means -- he means the world to me. I've looked up to him since I - as long as I could remember, when I was little. When he joined the Marines, I couldn't explain how proud I was to call him my brother. 'That's my brother out there fighting for my freedom here at home.'"
"When I first enlisted, you know, I went in with respect for the flag & my country & friends, family -- but coming back after doing over there -- you know, that's *my* flag. That's what I love."
Patriot Guard Riders Nubbin & Angela Johnston know the meaning of that flag. They lost their son, Marine Sgt. Gary Johnston, in Iraq in 2007. They ride in his memory ... and to honor those in uniform.
"Well, this is a good day. We brought a young man home from war, & yes -- it is hard. Very hard. But....he made it. And that's what we're here for."
LCpl Jerod Mankins has about a month to spend with his family and friends in Texoma before he'll move on to his next assignment with the Marines.
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