Jennifer Edwards Baker reports
The body of Marine Sgt. John Patrick “J.P.” Huling will return to his Butler County hometown Sunday as the latest recipient of the prestigious Purple Heart Award, military officials said Friday.
U.S. Marine Sgt. John Patrick “J.P.” Huling. Photo provided.
The Moeller High School graduate and bomb disposal specialist, 25, was shot in the chest and killed Sunday by someone, possibly a Taliban member, wearing an Afghan National Army uniform – a person supposed to be an ally of U.S. forces.
Sgt. Huling became the latest victim in a series of attacks blamed on Afghan soldiers – or on assailants dressed in Afghan military uniforms. The attacks come as NATO is preparing to hand over security to local forces ahead of a 2014 deadline for withdrawing combat troops.
The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those who have been wounded or killed while serving our country.
“It is an unfortunate honor to make sure that J.P. Huling is given the proper respect he deserves,” said Major Dave Valentino of the U.S. Marines Communications Co. in Cincinnati. “That’s our duty here, to make sure that both he and his family get what they need through this troubling time.”
When Sgt. Huling’s American flag-draped casket lands about 3 p.m. Sunday at the Butler County Regional Airport in Fairfield Township, it will not be alone. Military veterans on motorcycles from the Patriot Guard Riders and local and federal law enforcement will accompany it to Hodapp Funeral Home off Tylersville Road in West Chester.
On Monday, there will be a visitation from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Moeller High School.
There also will be a service at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Michael’s Church in Sharonville before Sgt. Huling’s body is flown to Washington D.C., where he will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Valentino said Sgt. Huling wanted to be laid to rest at Arlington.
Even though Sgt. Huling questioned the purpose of the U.S. military’s continued presence in Afghanistan, he answered the call for service when he was sent to Afghanistan six months ahead of schedule last month, departing on Good Friday.
It was his second tour of duty. He had enlisted after serving in Iraq.
He was assigned to the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Sgt. Huling grew up in West Chester and attended St. Michael School in Sharonville before continuing his private Catholic school education at Moeller.
After Moeller, he worked as a kitchen manager at Manor House in Mason and enrolled in Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, where he attended culinary school.
A year later, though, he still felt his life was missing something, so he joined the Marines.
Like his younger brother, Sgt. Huling was inspired to serve his country in light of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
He was stationed in Camp Pendleton and recently purchased a house with his wife in Temeculah, Calif.
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