Headstones at Arlington National Cemetery
Archive photo

Retired Col. Thomas E. Johnson

Retired Col. Thomas E. Johnson, age 71 of Basehor, Kansas, passed away Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. He was born Dec. 13, 1948 in Norfolk, Nebraska, to Louis and Eileen Johnson. He married his high school sweetheart, Janet, in 1968 and they celebrated 52 years together. He grew up in a farming community, worked for his father’s construction company and in 1976 was selected to become a firefighter for the Norfolk Fire Division. He served as a professional firefighter for eight years and loved every minute of the job.    

Thomas received his commission as a second lieutenant in 1976.  He served in command assignments from platoon leader through battalion command. He mobilized and deployed with the 35th Infantry Division to Bosnia in 2003 and served as the ground force commander for U.S. Forces. He deployed to Iraq from 2006 to 2007 and commanded a team of advisors who worked with the Iraqi Security Forces in Northern Iraq. During this deployment he was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal and Iraqi Campaign Medal.

During his career, he was also awarded the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with five oak leaf clusters plus numerous awards and citations.

After leaving the Army, he worked as a Department of Defense military analyst at Fort Leavenworth. He was active in the Holy Angels Catholic Church and was a past Grand Knight of Columbus Council 3146 and the founding Faithful Navigator of the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly 3629. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, sister (Patricia Gilbreath) and brother (Robert Johnson).

Thomas is survived by his wife, Janet, and three daughters; Lynn Robertson, Grimes, Iowa; Kathi Ingham, Overland Park, Kansas; and Paula Dunham (husband Matt Dunham), Portland, Oregon.  Seven grandchildren, Christian and Skylar Robertson, Caitlin, Sarah and Landry Ingham, and Emily and Quinton Dunham.

The rosary will be prayed at Holy Angels Catholic Church in Basehor on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 12 p.m. with visitation to follow.  The Mass of Christian Burial will be at 2 p.m.  Family burial service will take place at the National Cemetery in Leavenworth. 

In lieu of flowers or tree plantings, the family kindly suggests memorial contributions to American Cancer Society, 1st Infantry Division Scholarship Fund, or Wreaths Across America.

On-line condolences can be left at  https://www.aldenharrington.com/memorials/thomas-johnson/4453668/index.php