Colonel John Johnson Obituary – Oklahoman
Colonel John Carl Johnson (retired U.S. Army), 88, died peacefully at his home in Edmond, OK with his wife, Nancy, by his side on April 3, 2022. He was born September 23, 1933 in Ellen and Ernest Johnson in Memphis, TN. John was the only child of his parents. John’s father, a Memphis police officer and first-generation Swedish immigrant, instilled in his son the enduring virtues of perseverance, thrift, and courage. World War II was the backdrop to John’s formative years. On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, John vividly remembered being in the living room with his parents reading the Sunday newspaper comics when the bombing of Pearl Harbor was announced on the radio. As a boy, John spent the summer of 1943 with his Aunt Grace in Georgia who lived near Ft. Benning. During that summer, as he watched the planes fly in and out of the base, John’s dream of having a military career came true.
John attended elementary school and Snowden Jr. High School in Memphis, TN. After graduating from Central High School, Memphis, TN in 1951, John attended Columbia Military Academy. John earned the 1952 Graduate Medal at the Columbia Military Academy and qualified for the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, United States Coast Guard Academy, and United States Army Training Course. Naval Reserve Officers (ROTC).
John chose the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY and graduated from the West Point Class of 1956. After graduating from the United States Military Academy with a Bachelor of Science, the accomplishments John’s educational institutions include: US Army Intelligence School, Fort Holabird, Maryland; US Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island; US Air War College, Montgomery, Alabama; and Troy State University, Montgomery, Alabama-Master of Science. Colonel John Carl Johnson was a true American hero. Colonel (then LTC) Johnson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action in the Republic of South Vietnam during the period May 16 to June 8, 1972. He was awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry in combat from May 25 to June 8, 1972 while serving as Senior Advisor, 15th Regiment, attached to the 21st Infantry Division, Republic of South Vietnam Army. The 15th Regiment was the most advanced element of the division, leading the offensive operation to break the siege of An Loc. On May 25, 1972, the regiment had advanced within a few miles of An Loc when it came under fierce attack from around five NVA regiments supported by tanks, mortars and artillery. Seeing that by then – CPT Tiberi, his last remaining battalion adviser, had been seriously wounded and incapacitated, Colonel Johnson immediately and repeatedly exposed himself to horrific enemy direct fire as well as artillery and mortar barrages to drag CPT Tiberi back to the relative safety of a fox hole. There, Colonel Johnson administered first aid throughout the day and night, while directing airstrikes and advising his counterpart on appropriate military actions to counter the devastating enemy attack. Intense fighting would continue uninterrupted for nearly two weeks, during which Colonel Johnson would lead the regiment in several counterattacks, inflicting huge enemy casualties, destroying countless enemy weapons, demoralizing enemy soldiers and confusing senior enemy leaders. Colonel Johnson’s tactical genius, combined with uncommon leadership, resolve and bravery, served as a rallying point for the 15th Regiment. Despite appalling losses and insurmountable odds, the regiment prevailed and An Loc was released. Colonel Johnson would also earn the Bronze Star Medal, 3 Purple Hearts, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Distinguished Service Medal and many other decorations for his repeated bravery and his extraordinary leadership. Colonel Johnson was awarded the Oklahoma Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding meritorious performance as the Army’s Senior Advisor to the Oklahoma National Guard during the period June 1977 through June 1981. In 2012, Colonel Johnson has been honored as a recipient of the prestigious Legion of Valor and he was inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame in 2018. Colonel Paul Tiberi, who served with Colonel Johnson during the Siege of An Loc, named Colonel Johnson to the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame, wrote the following:
“Colonel Johnson saved my life in the most gruesome combat against very determined hostile forces. I would not be alive today without his extraordinary courage. So some may consider my testimony to be subjective. But I would have the privilege of naming Colonel Johnson even if he didn’t save my life. Why? Because I’ve had the honor to serve with many outstanding leaders and incredible heroes in battle, including the ‘one received the Medal of Honor; and, I can say unequivocally that I have known no braver soldier or more inspiring and selfless leader than Colonel Johnson. I must add that my two sons have carried out several tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and other dangerous areas of military operations.Each of those days I prayed that someone with just a little of Colonel Johnson’s courage, skill and selflessness directs them.
This giant of a man couldn’t just fade into the sunset after retiring from the military after 26 years of distinguished military service. Instead, he championed “Jobs for Veterinarians” for Oklahoma State; worked as a receiver; was a teacher/counsellor for underprivileged youth at the Guthrie Job Corps; and owner-operator of an auto repair shop. In 1998 the Colonel retired to hunt big bass across the great state of Oklahoma, East Texas and Florida. Over the years, he and his wife, Nancy, enjoyed Friday Night Club get-togethers in Memphis, TN with dear childhood friends and October parties spent in the Hill Country of Texas with long-time military friends. date, Colonel (retired) Charles and Kaye Arneche. John also spent long afternoons visiting rocking chairs with close neighborhood friends, especially Steve Ochs. Colonel Johnson had a full life in which he did things his way with few regrets. John is survived by his wife, Nancy, and son from his first marriage, John Kevin (Betty) Johnson of Bixby, OK; grandsons Christopher (Sarah) Johnson of Broken Arrow, OK and Dr. Derek (Jenna) Johnson of Sapulpa, OK; and five great-grandchildren, Nathan, Samuel, Micah, Emma and McKenzie Johnson: Nancy’s children, Evan (Brandie) Peter of Austin, TX, Clint (Leah) Peter of Augusta, KS, and Sarah Peter of ‘Augusta, KS; grandchildren, Jacob and Carson Peter of Austin, TX; Kaleb, Mariah and Elijah Peter of Augusta, KS: Second wife, Sylvia, and children, Scooter, Carol and Tony (June) Valuikas. He was predeceased by his parents, Ellen and Ernest Johnson; first wife, Priscilla Hamil Johnson; daughter-in-law, Margie Valuikas; and stepson, Harold Abbott.
Colonel Johnson will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors, the date of which is pending.
Posted June 22, 2022
Posted in The Oklahoman