29-year-old Staff Sgt. Donna Johnson was one of three members of the Winterville-based 514th Military Police Company killed October 1 by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Johnson's body arrived at Pope Army Air Field in Fayetteville on Friday.
Hundreds of Patriot Guard Riders and other volunteers formed a human wall around the Raeford Presbyterian Church to block The Westboro Baptist Church from picketing the service. Hundreds more people lined the streets of downtown Raeford waving flags and holding home-made signs.
Police said there was a minor disturbance involving the protestors, but it was quickly and quietly taken care of. No other trouble was reported as friends and strangers stood shoulder to shoulder to salute the fallen soldier.
At the Raeford City Cemetery, flags flew in the breeze as the Honor Guard carried Johnson's casket to its final resting place. Though Staff Sgt. Johnson could have been buried at Arlington National Cemetery, her family wanted her close to home.
The two other soldiers killed in the bombing were Sgt. Thomas J. Butler IV and Sgt. Jeremy F. Hardison. Both were buried earlier this week.