Rest in Peace, LTC (Ret.) Thomas Johnson

Prolific author on Third Reich artifacts — and true friend of our hobby
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A true friend of the hobby and Military Trader, LTC (Ret.) Thomas M. Johnson,  

A true friend of the hobby and Military Trader, LTC (Ret.) Thomas M. Johnson,  

With deepest regret, Military Trader must report the passing of LTC (Ret.) Thomas M. Johnson, 82, of Stafford County passed away on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 at Mary Washington Hospital.

LTC Johnson retired from a successful career in the United States Army, which included serving twice as Battalion Staff Advisor in Vietnam, and later as Deputy Senior Advisor to the Commander/U.S. Army Ranger Command in Vietnam on his second tour in 1970.

While in Vietnam (then Major Johnson) was decorated twice for valor by the South Vietnamese government during the 1968 TET Offensive. While at Fort Benning, Col. Johnson co-authored the U.S. Army Field Manual on the M-16 rifle, which is still issued and used today, and was an instructor on the Rifle Marksmanship Committee of the Weapons Department for the U.S. Army Infantry School. Thereafter, he was Executive Officer/Basic Combat Training Committee, at Fort Jackson. 

LTC (Ret.) Thomas M. Johnson shared this 1968 photo of himself awaiting receipt of Vietnamese valor decorations from the ARVN commanding officer of the 2nd Vietnamese Ranger Battalion in Pleiku, South Vietnam. During his second tour of duty, Johnson was a senior advisor assigned to the Vietnamese Ranger Command responsible for the border camps in the mountainous highlands of II Corps.

LTC (Ret.) Thomas M. Johnson shared this 1968 photo of himself awaiting receipt of Vietnamese valor decorations from the ARVN commanding officer of the 2nd Vietnamese Ranger Battalion in Pleiku, South Vietnam. During his second tour of duty, Johnson was a senior advisor assigned to the Vietnamese Ranger Command responsible for the border camps in the mountainous highlands of II Corps.

Following that, he was assigned to work for the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. He was hand selected to serve as a planner in the new Crisis Planning and Assessment Group created by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. His final military assignment had him reporting directly to U.S. Marine General P. X. Kelley to help create the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force. General Kelley, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, personally performed Col. Johnson’s retirement ceremony in November of 1981.

Col. Johnson left the service in order to pursue a full-time career as a professional writer. He was an avid collector and researcher of German edged weapons for over 55 years and completed thirty-three reference books on the subject of collecting European edged weaponry and captured enemy war booty.

His 8-volume series entitled Collecting the Edged Weapons of the Third Reich is considered the STANDARD upon which all references on this subject and many others are judged. He has received numerous awards and recognitions for his writings.

His reputation and knowledge on the subject of edged weapons are such that his expertise and authentications are accepted by the collecting community as the final “stamp of approval.” 

He started his own business as President of Johnson Reference Books & Militaria where he remained active until his recent death.

He was a native of Cleveland, Tennessee, where he attended Arnold Elementary School, and thereafter went to the Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee where he was ROTC Cadet Colonel/Brigade Commander and a member of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, among many other accomplishments. During his military service, he received a Master’s Degree in Operations Research (ORSA) from the University of Alabama. 

He and his late wife, Antonia (Tink), enjoyed traveling worldwide, taking cruises, and antiquing. Survivors include his sister, Peggy Davis; step-daughters Lauren Gibson (Robert), Sharon Green (James), and Karen Kutcher (William); nieces and nephews, John Davis (Karen), Jane Neall (David), Locke Davis (Jeannette), Brad Johnson (Suzie), Donna Kimmel (Dann) and several grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife; parents; and brother.

Interment will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations go to the Wounded Warrior’s Project in Col. Johnson’s name. Online guest book is available at covenantfuneralservice.com.

Farewell, our Friend— LTC(Ret.) Thomas M. Johnson.

Farewell, our Friend— LTC(Ret.) Thomas M. Johnson.

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