BAXLEY, GA (WTOC) - Fellow Marines carried the coffin of James Dixon III from the service inside Memorial Freewill Baptist Church. Loved ones and comrades gathered there to pay respects to the former corporal. Servicemen came from across the country to pay tribute.
"He had a personality that consumed you. Nothing was impossible for him. He was very positive. He was very open and friendly and bright," explained Maj. Gen. Ronald Bailey, commander of the 1st Marine Division stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Dixon served three tours in Iraq and received the Purple Heart for injuries. Loved ones told WTOC on Monday, he never completely recovered and was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Sunday, he held lawmen in a standoff outside his house. A SWAT team shot and killed the 30 year old when he ignored commands to drop the shotgun he was holding. The shooting is under review by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Retired Maj. James Capers considered Dixon part of his family. Dixon was writing a military history book with him.
"PTSD is a nationwide problem. Suicide rate is up. These kids do three to four tours and this country doesn't seem to appreciate the sacrifice they make," he said.
Despite any controversy over Dixon's death, members of the Patriot Guard Riders came to honor his life and service.
"There's probably thousands of men like this, men and women like this, that become so confused and they live this thing over and over again in their mind," noted PGR chaplain Rev. Murl Gwynn.
Gwynn himself joined the Motorcycle Honor Guard after the death of his own son-in-law, Darren Hubbell, in 2006 in Iraq.
"Heroes like James get lost in the cracks of the system. But he's as much a hero as Darren," he added.
Many at the service hope Dixon's tragedy serves as a caution to the nation.