Cherokee veteran profiled in ‘We Served’ series dies
William "Tick" Johnston served as a mechanic and driver for his Sherman tank during World War II. He was part of the American forces that pushed across Germany during World War II and helped end the war. COURTESY
William "Tick" Johnston formerly of Vinita displays the medals he received for his service during World War II. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
MIAMI, Okla. – In 2011, the Cherokee Phoenix interviewed William “Tick” Irwin Johnston about his service in the Army during World War II for its “We Served” series. Johnston, formerly of Vinita, died on Aug. 3 in Joplin, Missouri, at age 96.
In the interview, Johnston spoke of his wish to serve as an airplane mechanic so that he would have a trade after serving. He was eventually assigned to working on airplane motors – in Sherman tanks. After training at various sites in the states, his unit, the 786th Tank Battalion, was sent to Scotland and eventually entered the war in December 1944 in France. He was the driver and mechanic for his tank.
Eventually, his battalion would be attached to the 3rd Armored Division as it pushed toward Germany. The noted general, George S. Patton, led the division and Johnston had a chance meeting with the general in Germany, which he recounted in the “We Served” story.
During his service he was awarded the Purple Heart. After the war, he came home and married Wilma Jane Catlin and they had two children.
Johnston was an avid fisherman, hunter and gardener. He loved throwing horseshoes and won several state championships. He worked for BF Goodrich for more than 40 years and retired from the company.
He is survived by his wife, Wilma; son, Denny Johnston and wife Janie of North Fort Myers, Florida; daughter, Jane Anderson and husband Bob Jackson of Grove; three grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents, Lewis and Eufa; and sisters, Nancy Andrews (Stanley) and Martha Green.
To read his “We Served” story and watch a video interview, visit https://www.cherokeephoenix.org/Article/Index/5755