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. 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 Marines made."
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, Ore.
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 $3,000.
"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."
"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 loved Hummers."
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 piece.
"I only had the vehicle for two days before we took it in," she joked.