Russell James Johnson passed away at his home July 19, 2017 at the age of 93. Russell was born March 11, 1924 in Parma, Missouri to Alva H. and Beulah G. (Brayton) Johnson and raised in southeastern farming communities in the Poplar Bluff, Missouri area with three brothers and a sister. He attended Big Island Schools in Butler County, Missouri.
In April 1944 he was drafted into the United States Army and was sent to Camp Forsyth at Ft. Riley for Basic Training, Horse Cavalry and Pack Mule training in the 1st Cavalry Division. His unit was one of the last units to train in the Horse Cavalry of the 1st Cavalry Division. The 1st Cavalry Division then began transitioning to armored and motorized units. Upon completion of training he was sent to WWII action in the Pacific Theatre. They landed in New Guinea and then were a part of the invasion of Luzon, Philippines. The 1st Cavalry Division left the Philippines in late August 1945 for duty to occupy Japan. His unit was part of the group to invade the Japanese capital, Tokyo, in September 1945. He was a guard at the Imperial Palace for General Douglas MacArthur.
Russell returned to the states in December 1945 and re-assigned for training in the canine corps again stationed at Ft. Riley. One of the horse stables on Main Post was converted to training for scout dogs. He served at several stateside posts including Sandia Base, Albuquerque, NM and Fort Hood, TX before he transferred in August 1950 to Darmstadt and Lenggries, Germany where he spent two years in the Quartermaster Corps training Polish, German, and American soldiers with the handling of their guard/attack dogs.
Russell returned to the states and left the army in August 1952 to join the civilian workforce. He married Marian A. Dietrich on February 9, 1947 and they raised three children in Junction City. Russell was owner/operator of Johnson Landscaping, Inc. in Junction City for many years before he retired; and the business is now operated by his son.
He was a recipient of the Bronze Star (“for exemplary conduct in ground combat against the armed enemy during the period on or about 11 June 1945 in the Pacific Theater of Operations”), the Combat Infantryman Badge, Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, Luzon Campaign Star, Philippine Liberations Ribbon with Star, and World War II Victory Medal.
He is survived by his wife of over 70 years, Marian; his son Curtis W. Johnson and his wife Linda of Junction City; his son Larry R. Johnson and his wife Becki of Manhattan; daughter Cathy J. Nuzum and her husband Jay of Junction City; a brother, Ray Gene Johnson of Poplar Bluff, Missouri; eight grandchildren (Ronald Johnson, Michael McGlothin, Bryan Johnson, Laurence Johnson, Jason McGlothin, Lauren Johnson, Nicole Wang, and Brent Nelson); 21 great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Russell was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers; and two sisters.
Russell was a member of the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Junction City, and the Earl C. Gormley Post #45 of the American Legion, also of Junction City.
The family will greet friends on Monday evening, July 24, 2017 from 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. at the Immanuel Lutheran Church, 630 S. Eisenhower, in Junction City. A Committal Service will be held Tuesday, July 25, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery near Ogden, KS. Those wanting to follow the family or need a ride to the cemetery are asked to meet at the church by 9:30 a.m. Following that service, a Memorial Service will be held at the Immanuel Lutheran Church at 11:30 a.m. followed by a luncheon and fellowship at the church. Penwell-Gabel Junction City Funeral Chapel is assisting with arrangements.
Memorial contributions can be made to Immanuel Lutheran Church or to the Kansas Honor Flight. (Please make the checks for: Kansas Honor Flight and in the memo section state: for Memorial for Russell James Johnson. They can be sent directly to Kansas Honor Flight, P.O. Box 2371, Hutchinson, KS 67504 or to the Penwell-Gabel Junction City Funeral Chapel, 203 N. Washington, Junction City, Ks and they will forward to Kansas Honor Flight.)