CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. ( March 2, 2006)
Karla Comfort received a lot of looks and even some salutes from
people when she drove from Benton, Ark., to Camp Pendleton, Calif., in
her newly-painted, custom Hummer H3 March 2. The vehicle is adorned with
the likeness of! her son, 20-year-old Lance Cpl. John M. Holmason, and
nine other Marines with F Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment,
1st Marine Division who where all killed by the same improvised
explosive device blast in Fallujah, Iraq, in December.
For Karla Comfort, having the vehicle air brushed with the image
of the 10 Marines was a way to pay homage to her hero and his fellow
comrades who fell on Iraq's urban battlefield.
"I wanted to let people know (Marines) are doing their jobs
honorably, and some of them die," said the 39-year-old from Portland, OR
"I don't want people to forget the sacrifices that my son and the other
Leading up to her son's death, Karla Comfort had received
several letters from him prior to his return. He had been deployed for
five months, and Comfort "worried everyday he was gone until she got the
letters and found out the date he was coming home," she said.
Marines knocked on the front door of her home in Farmington,
Mich., at 3 am with the dreadful news.
"I let my guard down when I found out he was coming home," she
said. "There are times that I still cannot believe it happened. It's
very hard to deal with."
Karla Comfort came up with the idea for the rolling memorial
when she and her two other sons attended John's funeral in Portland,
"I saw a Vietnam (War) memorial on a car, and I said to my son
Josh, 'we should do something like that for John,' she recalled. "He
She purchased the vehicle in January and immediately took it to
AirbrushGuy & Co. in Benton, Ark., where artist Robert Powell went to
work on changing the plain, black vehicle into a decorative, mobile, art
"I only had the vehicle for two days before we took it in," she
Two hundred and fifty man-hours later, Powell had completed the
vehicle. The custom job would have cost $25,000. Out of respect for
Karla Comfort's loss and the sacrifices the Marines made, AirbrushGuy &
Co. did it for free. Comfort only had to purchase the paint, which cost
"I love it," she said. "I'm really impressed with it, and I
think John would be happy with the vehicle. He would have a big smile on
his face because he loved Hummers."
Karla Comfort gave Powell basic instructions on what to include
in the paint job. But in addition to the image of her son in Dress Blues
and the faces of the nine other Marines, there were several surprises.
"He put a lot more on than I expected," she said. "I think my favorite
part is the heaven scene."
On the left side of the vehicle, a detail of Marines are
depicted carrying their fallen comrades through the clouds to their
final resting place. The American flag drapes across the hood, the
words, "Semper Fi" crown the front windshield and the spare tire cover
carries the same Eagle Globe and Anchor design that her son had tattooed
on his back.
"All the support I have been getting is wonderful," she said.
Karla Comfort decided to move back to her hometown of Portland,
and making t he cross-country trip from Arkansas was a way for her to
share her son's story. It's also her way of co ping w ith the loss.
"Along the way I got nothing but positive feedback from people,"
she said. "What got to me was when people would salute the guys
(Marines). It's hard to look at his picture. I still cry and try to get
used to the idea, but it's hard to grasp the idea that he's really