Four National Honor Society students from Rockport Fulton High School made an amazing discovery while volunteering for a Keep Aransas County Beautiful cleanup project ten days ago.
“She picked it up, and it was really muddy and dirty, and it just looked like a red blob,” Rockport Fulton High School Junior Alyna Salazar said. “But as you got closer you were able to see that it was actually a Marine Corps flag.”
And it was not just any Marine Corps flag. It was covered in signatures from Aransas County and county airport leaders. It didn’t take long to figure out that it belonged to longtime airport manager Eugene “Gene” Johnson who retired in 2015 and died in 2016.
The flag went missing when Hurricane Harvey destroyed the home Johnson’s wife Linda was living in on August 25, 2017 and hadn’t been seen since.
“I didn’t know the flag was missing,” current Aransas County Airport Manager Mike Geer said. “I just assumed that it was probably a part of Linda’s loss when she lost her home.”
And it was for almost 19 months until that cleanup project a week and a half ago. Event organizers took the flag from the students and returned it to Linda Johnson.
“That’s so great to know that we were able to bring a little bit of joy and a little bit of memory to someone who lost the love of their life,” Salazar said.
Linda didn’t keep the flag long. Geer says she donated it to the airport, because that’s where her husband had worked so diligently for 35 years. Right now it’s hanging on a wall in the conference room, but Geer has big plans for it.
“Our plan from this point is to clean it up a little bit,” he said. “We’re going to put it in a shadow box along with some other memorabilia of Gene’s, and we’re going to hang it in the hangar across the way that we just named for Eugene Johnson.”