SSG (Retired) Thomas “Egor” Johnson died peacefully in his sleep at 0640 hrs, Saturday, 29 November 2014 in the Hospice Care Wing of the St. Francis Hospital – the same hospital he was born in 68 years, 2 months, and 20 days ago on 09 September 1946. What many don’t know is that he was one of those people who would give anyone who would need it the shirt off his back, and not think anything about it. As the Bible would say, he suffered the little ones to come unto him and did what he could to ensure those who required it, received the help they needed – even if they didn’t really deserve it.
He served in the US Army from 1964 until 30 September 1984 as a Helicopter Crew-Chief and Mechanic, as a Recruiter, and as a Military Policeman (MP, MPI, and CID). He served 3 combat tours in Viet Nam and was awarded 17 Air Medals, 4 for Valor; the Bronze Star Medal; 2 Army Commendation Medals for Valor; and 3 Purple Heart Medals. Upon his return from Viet Nam, Egor set out to establish what has become the DUSTOFF Association. It was his vision that the DUSTOFF Association would protect and honor the legacy of Army aeromedical evacuation. The result of his efforts is an organization that today stands in the breach to defend such efforts as the award of the Combat Medical Badge to DUSTOFF crewmembers. The Association has served as an advocate for modernization of aircraft and equipment. His legacy as a DUSTOFFer means putting others before oneself, never leaving a comrade behind, standing up for those in need, taking one’s vision and making it happen through persistent hard work, and living an honorable life dedicated to serving our fighting forces.
Following his military service Egor/Tom had many interests in his life – in addition to founding the DUSTOFF Association, he served and protected his fellow man and the communities in which he lived and worked as a security specialist. His steadfast mental attitude, intelligence, and abilities to organize things, and putting everything together (even to its smallest fundamentals) was amazing to see.
He was always available to assist someone in doing something that would further the organizations for which he toiled and took pride in – be it the DUSTOFF Association, Private Security Companies for which he toiled, or someone who needed assistance. He was even a published author – and wrote a book regarding the 1968 Tet Offensive and the defense of the American Embassy – Saigon, South Vietnam.
SSG Thomas “Egor” Johnson was inducted into the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame on 18 Feb 2007 for his life-long impact on the DUSTOFF Association and his contributions to the legacy of DUSTOFF. MG(Ret) Patrick Brady, Medal of Honor recipient for his actions flying DUSTOFF in Vietnam, says of “Egor” “He was the perfect example of the guts of our Army, the Non-commissioned Officers. While many of the officers of that time pontificated about the incredible accomplishments of DUSTOFF and how we should organize to tell our story, Egor went to work and got it done. He, and he alone, is responsible for where we are today.”
Right now, he’s probably partying with all the former DUSTOFF Association Members, all his friends, associates, and co-workers who have proceeded him and waiting for the rest of us to show up; and, he’s keeping an eye on us, doing what he always did!!