Four Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) students - Jolie Hamilton, Kynndrah Warner, Alyna Salazar, and Madeline McCrary - were recognized by the Aransas County Airport (ACA) officials Saturday, Sept. 28 for finding a United States Marine Corp (USMC) flag that belonged to longtime former ACA Manager, the late Eugene Johnson.
The flag is currently displayed on the wall of the community hangar, which was named after him.
“Just as Aransas County is fortunate to have benefitted from the services of an individual of Gene’s character for so many years, we are equally blessed to have citizens such as Jolie, Kynndrah, Alyna, Madeline, and Sandy (McCollum), who so perfectly exemplify the volunteer spirit of our community,” said ACA Manager Mike Geer.
As reported in an earlier edition of The Rockport Pilot, the four students found the flag during a Keep Aransas County Beautiful clean up in Holiday Beach March 2. The flag belonged to former Marine and ACA Manager E. Johnson. He was given the flag by Aransas County after his retirement.
“He was always on top of everything that had to do with his airport,” said Aransas County Surveyor Jerry Brundrett. “He was a blessing in many ways to me, even in his resilience, even after he had COPD and carrying an oxygen bottle, he still wanted to come to work, he wouldn’t give up.”
After E. Johnson’s passing in February 2016, the flag continued to hang in his home. His wife, Linda, continued to live in the home until Hurricane Harvey destroyed it. L. Johnson, prior to the flag being found, believed it had been destroyed, along with many other belongings.
When she learned the flag had been found, she felt it was important for it to be displayed at the place Gene loved and where he spent many years leaving his mark.
“I’m so very happy these young girls took it upon themselves to do what they did that day,” she said.
Saturday’s event was to formally celebrate the hanging of the flag in E. Johnson’s hangar and to recognize the RFHS students who found it. Salazar and Hamilton were present and recognized at the event.
“Being able to see people I’ve never met come together for a flag I didn’t know had any significance is very heartwarming to me,” said Hamilton. “It was very important, and I’m glad I helped in finding it.”
Salazar echoed the same sentiments and added it is something she’ll never forget.
“It’s something that’s going to impact the rest of my life,” she said. “Something I’m going to look back at and tell my kids about. It has brought me hope.”
All four RFHS students recognized are National Honor Society students.