On a late summer Saturday, a procession of fire engines, motorcycles and squad cars escorted a van down Main Street. By the time the caravan had arrived at the American Legion hall, a crowd had gathered; lines of police, firefighters and the military parted to form a path of honor.
Krista Johnston stepped from the van — an impossibly young widow. She wore her husband’s favorite blue-and-pink Hawaiian shirt; it seemed too big even over her pregnant belly.
Sgt. James Johnston, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist, had been killed along with a Green Beret on June 25 in Uruzgan Province in south-central Afghanistan. Two months later, his adopted hometown had come together to pay tribute, and to say goodbye.
Johnston had grown up in Texas and hadn’t lived here long but he’d become part of the fabric of this hamlet in upstate New York. He’d suited up for the Trumansburg Blue Raiders football team, signed on as a volunteer firefighter and found a partner, Krista, his high school sweetheart who became his wife.