The Morehead News

Friday's Post

November 11, 2011

41 years later, a brave soldier is coming home today

Nov. 11, 2011 —     Since before the Civil War, Americans have whistled, hummed, sang and played the familiar strains of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” to welcome home our courageous men and women in uniform.

    The opening stanza goes like this:

“When Johnny comes marching home again,

Hurrah! Hurrah!

We'll give him a hearty welcome then

Hurrah! Hurrah!

The men will cheer and the boys will shout

The ladies they will all turn out

And we'll all feel gay,

When Johnny comes marching home.”

    Today, on this Veteran’s Day, family and friends of Army Capt. Johnny Stringer finally have an opportunity to welcome him home, if only in spirit, 41 years after he went off to war.

    A memorial service is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. at the East Carter County Memory Gardens east of Grayson on US 60.

    A VA grave marker with his name, rank and unit is being unveiled near the gravesites of his parents, Curt and Mary Stringer

    The 24-year-old infantry officer was leading a combat patrol in Vietnam in November 1970 when he was swept away in a monsoon-swollen jungle stream. No trace of his body has been found.

    The Army changed his classification from MIA (missing in action) to KIA (killed in action) in 1978.

    Johnny Stringer grew up in Grayson where his father was principal of Prichard High School.

I remember him as a standout in high school baseball and basketball for the Prichard Yellow Jackets in the early 1960’s. 

    As a student at Eastern Kentucky University, he joined Army ROTC and became a second lieutenant upon graduation.

    His parents moved to Hazard and remained there until their deaths but both were buried in Grayson beside the empty grave reserved for their only child.

    The soldier’s grave marker was provided with help from the cemetery staff, State Rep. Jill York, U. S. Rep. Geoff Davis and Bob Thomas of Malone Funeral Home.

Roger Calhoun, a boyhood friend of Stringer, said he often had wondered why no memorial service had been held for his friend in his hometown.

    Today, in retrospect, we imagine his family may have been unwilling to assume his death because they were clinging to the hope that he would turn up alive in a POW camp.

    On this Veteran’s Day – at least in the hearts of his family and friends – Johnny Stringer will come marching home at last.

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