The father of a Vermont man killed in a military training mission in Mississippi said Wednesday his son told him he had the best job in the Marine Corps.
“‘I get to fly everywhere,'” Kevin Johnson, of Colchester, recalled his son, Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Johnson, as saying.
Brendan Johnson, 46, went to Colchester High School, then joined the Marines after graduating from Johnson State College. His father said he traveled back and forth across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, touring many countries. A fine arts major, he also studied the architecture and visited museums.
The elder Johnson said his son, who was taking on more administrative work, was looking to retire next year, possibly returning to school for a master’s degree and then move from Newburgh, New York, to Montana, where his wife, Anna, is from. He said Brendan loved the outdoors and was considering a job as a park ranger or a fish and game warden.
“He was thinking of looking into that, but he said, ‘You know, I’ve got some time,'” Johnson said. “We’ll miss him.”
He also wanted to get back into painting and sketching; he once surprised the family with portraits of his grandfather and father-in-law when they graduated from Navy boot camp.
The couple, who met and married in Fort Worth, Texas, shortly after 9/11, didn’t have a formal ceremony. They renewed their vows last September in Montana with families present.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said the loss of Brendan Johnson “hits particularly close to home.” He said his father’s tribute “movingly expressed the depth of his family’s love for Brendan.”
Monday’s crash killed 15 Marines and a Navy sailor. It was the deadliest Marine crash in more than a decade. Brendan Johnson was one of nine based out of Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, home of a Marine Aerial Refueling and Transport Squadron.
This story has been corrected to show the couple lived in Newburgh, New York, not in Fort Worth.