Born in rural Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, John was the fourth of Mozella and William Johnston’s five children. Living in rural communities demanded physical strength and a spiritual integrity that would serve him throughout life. As a young man he worked a multitude of jobs to assist his family and in 1955 John joined the U.S. Air Force upon High School graduation. He trained as a Titan 2 ICBM communications operator and parachutist. Ever ready to challenge himself, John was selected to join Air Force Combat Controllers/Special Forces and participated in conflicts worldwide. John became a decorated Vietnam War veteran. During the Southeast Asia conflict John became a shadow warrior in covert missions in Laos and Cambodia. His name is among those commemorated on a monument at Combat Controller’s Headquarters in North Carolina. He concluded his Air Force career as an NCO Academy Instructor at Bergstrom AFB. Senior Master Sergeant Johnston retired his accomplished and decorated 24-year military career in 1979. After a long bout with Parkinson’s disease, John passed away on May 16, 2015.
John was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 2, 2015.