Lieutenant Colonel Robert (Bob) P. Johnston, USA, Retired, 89 years old, Easton, Kansas passed away Nov. 8, 2020 at Saint Luke’s Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri. Bob was born on March 10, 1931 in Belfast, Ireland to Robert and Lillian Johnston. He grew up in Chicago, Illinois and attended Lane Technical High School, a selective-enrollment school requiring students to pass a test and specific benchmarks in order to be offered admission. In addition, to usual academic classes, Bob learned a variety of technical skills such as carpentry, welding, wood working, and how to run a foundry. He was a standout in track and cross country winning the Chicago City Cross Country Championship, setting a record time that stood for decades. This captured the recruiting attention of coaching legend, Bill Easton landing him an athletic scholarship at the University of Kansas. He later transferred to the University of Illinois with a Cross Country scholarship. He entered the United States Army in 1953 and later returned to the University of Illinois graduating with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. From 1958 to 1960 he worked for Goodyear Aircraft Company, Akron Ohio as a Hydraulics Designer for the Ballistic Alert System. He resumed his military career in the Army graduating from Officer Candidate School (OCS). During his 23-years of service, he became Airborne, Special Forces, and Ranger qualified, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, graduated from the United States Army Command and General Staff College, completed a Masters Degree in Business Administration, and served a four-year assignment at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas as Author/Instructor in the Department of Tactics. Bob’s military career was highlighted by many roles including 11th Airborne Division’s Airborne School, rifle platoon leader in the 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, Camp Chicamauga, Japan, 1st Airborne Battle Group, 504th Infantry, 10th Special Forces Group at Bad Tolz, Company Commander of 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, 1965 deployment to Vietnam with the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, 2nd deployment to Vietnam 1970 serving as a Deputy Regimental Advisor to the 53rd Regiment. He was recognized with numerous decorations and awards including the Combat Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Wings, Ranger Tab, Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, and Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Silver Star.
Following retirement from the United States Army in 1977, he began a career at General Motors Fairfax Assembly Plant as a Facilities Engineer. He retired from General Motors in 1993 and pursued another rewarding professional endeavor as an Engineer for Dunn Industrial Group, Kansas City, Missouri.
During his retirement he was able to enjoy traveling the country with his wife, Kathryn (Kathy) by his side. They traveled to many international destinations enjoying many cultures. Kathy also accompanied Bob on many of his Harley Davidson tours. Their motorcycle ventures took Kathy to 48 of the 50 states and Bob to 49 states. They made many wonderful friends along the way.
Bob was a 39-year Scottish Rite Mason of Hancock Lodge #311, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was also an Abdallah Shriner and member of The Royal Order of Jesters both of Overland Park, Kansas.
Bob is survived by his wife, Kathryn Johnston, his children, Jim Vaczi (wife, Dayna), Kathy Parsons (Victor Young), Lillian Lockwood (husband, Robert “Bob”), Vicky Parr (husband, Don), Robert G. Johnston, John Johnston (wife, Wendi), 14 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren. He is preceded in death by Eiko Johnston (wife), William Johnston (son), David Johnston (brother), Helen Ails (sister), Justin Johnston (grandson).
The family appreciates and thanks everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial support for Remembering Justin, a college scholarship fund for McLouth High school seniors in memory of Justin Johnston, grandson. Information can be found at www.rememberingjustin.com. Please share online condolences by visiting www.davisfuneralchapelinc.com. Private funeral services will be held at Davis Funeral Chapel, Leavenworth, Kansas. Robert Johnston will be interred at The Fort Donelson National Cemetery in Dover, Tennessee with military honors.
Published on November 13, 2020