Cherokee Nation Honors Veterans at Tribal Council Meeting

February 24, 2012
Lenzy Eugene Warrington is honored by Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, left, and Principal Chief Bill John Baker, right, during the February regular Tribal Council meeting.
Lenzy Eugene Warrington is honored by Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden, left, and Principal Chief Bill John Baker, right, during the February regular Tribal Council meeting.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation honored two World War II Army veterans and one Air Force veteran at its regular monthly Tribal Council meeting Thursday, with Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden presenting each one with the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism.

James Carl Warrington was born in Claremore on Nov. 3, 1924, and was raised in Seminole County. He was drafted by the Army between his junior and senior years of high school and began his service on July 2, 1943. After receiving anti-aircraft and communications training, Warrington was sent to Europe aboard the Queen Mary to serve on the front lines in General George Patton’s 3rd Army as a lineman and switchboard operator. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg and France, and his division helped liberate two concentration camps.

Warrington recalled meeting a mayor in Luxembourg during the Battle of the Bulge.

“Soldier, the Germans are out there just a few kilometers,” said the mayor to the young private. “We haven’t even got a big stick to fight them with. We sure are glad to see you.”

Warrington was honorably discharged Jan. 23, 1946, having been awarded the World War II Victory Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, American Campaign Medal, European Campaign Medal with four bronze stars, Army of Occupation Medal, Combat Infantry Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Button and Certificate of Merit Award. He now lives in Cromwell with his wife Cleo. The couple has three grown children. 

His brother, Lenzy Eugene Warrington, was born on May 14, 1926, near Picher. In 1944, he was drafted into the Army and served during the first occupation of Japan. His duties took him to the Pacific Theater, including stints in Guam, Saipan and Okinawa. He was aboard the USS Missouri when the Japanese surrendered at the end of World War II.

“We docked in Yokohama,” Lenzy Warrington said. “The battleship Missouri was there, and you could see the dignitaries each day, walking towards the peace proceedings.”

After being discharged in 1945, he returned to Oklahoma and went into business with his brother. They owned and operated a Phillips 66 service station along Interstate 40 in northern Seminole County until his retirement in May 1990.

On Oct. 16, 1951, Lenzy Warrington eloped with Edith Nash. The couple lives in Cromwell and has two children, Stanley E. Warrington of Broken Arrow and Janis Henley of Sapulpa, one granddaughter, three grandsons and one great-granddaughter.

Curtis G. Johnson was born Oct. 8, 1942, to Cherokee citizens Herbert and Juanita Johnson in Fort Gibson, where he graduated from high school in 1960. He then attended Connors State College on a football scholarship. After two years, Johnson enlisted in the Air Force and received in-flight refueling training. He was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho as a specialist in an air refueling squadron in the Strategic Air Command, a combat ready force that could be in the air and on the way to its target within 15 minutes of receiving warning. While serving in the Strategic Air Command, Johnson was put on alert during some historic moments in the 1960s.

“We were airborne alerted during the Kennedy assassination. Also, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, we were on airborne alert,” Johnson said. “During the bombing of the Vietnam harbors, which escalated the Vietnam War, we were airborne alert then, too.”

In 1967, after five years of service, Johnson was discharged with the rank of staff sergeant. He then went back to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Oklahoma, a master’s degree in education from Northeastern State University and administrative certification from Oklahoma State University. Johnson worked in different capacities as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Broken Arrow, Perkins-Tryon, Fort Gibson and Amarillo, Texas, school districts. He retired in 2002 after 34 years as an educator.

For the past five years, Johnson has worked as a customer representative at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. He also works on his retirement project, the restoration of Roselawn, a house on the National Historic Register.

Johnson and his wife Thrissa will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year. The couple has three daughters, Cherí Johnson of Washington, D.C., Rachelle Johnson of Tulsa and Jeanne Lewis of Sacramento, Calif., and two grandchildren, John David and Claire Rose Lewis.

The Cherokee Nation honors Cherokee service men and women during regular Tribal Council meetings as a way to thank them for their sacrifices for their county and as a way to demonstrate the high regard in which all veterans are held by the tribe. Statistically and historically, Native Americans, including Cherokees, are thought to hold the highest record of military service per capita of any ethnic group, according to the Department of Defense.

If you know a veteran that you would like to see honored by the Cherokee Nation, please call 918- 453-5541 or 800-256-0671, ext. 5541, to nominate them. To be eligible for recognition, the veteran must be a Cherokee Nation citizen.


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