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02-16-09, 08:22 AM
Community remembers 'dedicated Marine'
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February 15, 2009 - 7:41 PM

Cpl. Johnathon Tyler Burnette, 24, will be remembered by members of the Salem Baptist Church as "humble" and "willing to help," member Jay King said Sunday before a community memorial service honoring Burnette.

Burnette attended Salem Baptist on Wednesday and Sunday nights, provided he wasn't at work, King said.

Burnette died at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune on Jan. 7 of self-inflicted wounds, according to autopsy results released by Naval Criminal Investigative Services.

The Sunday before his, Burnette rededicated his life to Jesus Christ, King said.

"Just three days later ... we got this news. I don't understand," he said.

The news, King said, was "unbelievable."

"We just cannot even begin to understand what and why," he said.

King remembers Burnette as "troubled" that final Sunday night. But he thought Burnette felt better when he left church.

"You never know what's in a person's heart, what burdens they carry," he said.

The church hosted the memorial to celebrate Burnette's life, Pastor Joe Samples told the approximately 50 people who gathered in the sanctuary Sunday night, including members of Burnette's family who traveled from Tennessee and Michigan to attend. His 3-year-old daughter, Jaden Rose Burnette, was also in attendance.

"We know where Tyler is. He's with Jesus in Heaven," Samples said.

Samples also remembers the Sunday that Burnette rededicated his life.

"Tyler stepped out of his pew and rededicated his life to Jesus Christ, and we thank the Lord for that," he said.

Those who knew Burnette "miss him even now," Samples said.

"Tyler was a very dedicated Marine and considered it a great honor to serve his country," he said.

Shortly after his death, Burnette's family told media here and in Tennessee that they believed he was the victim of a homicide.

Navy investigators said Burnette was alive when he was found and made comments that led them to believe no crime was committed.

Burnette, who joined the Marine Corps June, 7, 2005, was a landing support specialist assigned to Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.

His awards included the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Jaden Rose Burnette Scholarship Fund courtesy of the Salem Baptist Church, 198 Sneads Ferry Road, Sneads Ferry, N.C., 28460.

Contact Jacksonville/Onslow County reporter Amanda Hickey at 910-219-8461 or ahickey@freedomenc.com.