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Coast Guard Veteran to Be Buried at Arlington National Cemetery

A Coast Guard and National Ensign mark a grave of a fallen Coast Guardsman during an annual Flags Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery, Nov. 4, 2017. (Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Loumania Stewart)
A Coast Guard and National Ensign mark a grave of a fallen Coast Guardsman during an annual Flags Across America event at Arlington National Cemetery, Nov. 4, 2017. (Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Loumania Stewart)

Scott Johnson, the New Britain firefighter and retired Coast Guard member who died of cancer this summer, made his final journey on Monday.

With a military escort at both ends of the trip, Johnson's body was flown from Connecticut to Washington, D.C., for burial Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery.

"His father is buried there, and Scott will be with him," said Caroline Johnson, Scott Johnson's widow. "This is what he wanted. Scott would be much more happy knowing he would be buried this way."

She and their three young sons got a police escort to Bradley International Airport on Monday morning, and flew the same United flight that carried his flag-draped coffin. They will be joined by relatives, New Britain firefighters and a contingent of Coast Guard members for the funeral at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

"It's been an exhausting day, but this has to be done," she said in a phone call Monday afternoon. "I think Scott would have been mad knowing all this hoopla was going on, but he deserved the ceremony."

Scott Johnson was 46 when he died in August, and had become a heroic figure in central Connecticut.

He battled advanced colorectal cancer for more than two years, and he and his family did extensive cancer research fundraising in that time.

Hundreds of people in the state donated money after hearing the story of the local firefighter, husband and father of three boys who was still going to work after grueling chemotherapy and operations. For most of his last two years, Scott Johnson still traveled to New London each month to maintain his standing as a chief damage controlman in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves.

About 500 mourners gathered for his funeral Aug. 22, and Caroline Johnson said at the time that he'd be buried at Arlington. His father, Roy, a Marine, is buried there, and Scott Johnson wanted to be buried alongside him.

However, Scott Johnson's retirement from the Coast Guard was official only one week before his death, creating a bureaucratic issue for the military, Caroline Johnson said.

"We needed an exception to the rules. Because he wasn't collecting retirement benefits yet, they said he could only be in the mausoleum or else request his own grave," she said. "But he wanted to be with his father. The Secretary of the Army finally approved it." 

--This article is written by Don Stacom from The Hartford Courant and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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