This Fourth of July was bittersweet for a South Georgia father who is preparing to lay his oldest son to rest. Retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Moncie Lamar Johns was killed in Iraq on June 17 in an accidental shooting.
While working as a military contractor, the 44-year-old was killed when a machine gun fired while Moncie Johns was unloading equipment, according to his family.
The Johns family said that while watching fireworks to celebrate Independence Day, they'll be reminded of our freedom, but mostly the sacrifice.
"Because I knew he was going to be home. It's sad, and I miss him," said the victim's father, Bill Johns. "He's a great son. He'll always be there with me, and I know I can talk to him. He might not be here physically, but I can talk to him."
Johns spent 22 years in the Marine Corps, serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was awarded numerous medals for bravery under fire in battles in which other Marines alongside him were killed.
"Lamar was the first one that got to him in the Hummer while he was pinned in and he said, 'Dad, I was the last one that he saw, I was the last one to tell him that everything was going to be alright.'"
Moncie Johns retired from the Marines in 2013 but still desired to serve, protect and defend Americans and the Iraqi people.
"He said, 'I do it because I want our people to experience the freedom that they need to, and not only us, but also the people in the Middle East,'" the grieving father said of his son.
Moncie Johns body will be returned to his family Saturday and he'll ultimately be laid to rest Monday in Brunswick.