At its recent Tribal Council meeting, the Cherokee Nation honored James James Carl Warrington, Lenzy Eugene Warrington, and Curtis G. Johnson with the Cherokee Medal of Patriotism.
Deputy Principal Chief S. Joe Crittenden presented the Native veterans with the medals.
James was born in Claremore, Oklahoma on November 3, 1924 and raised in Seminole County according to a Cherokee press release. He was drafted between his junior and senior years of high school and began his service in the Army on July 2, 1943. James received training in anti-aircraft and communications then was sent to Europe aboard the Queen Mary to serve with General George Patton’s 3rd Army on the front lines as a lineman and switchboard operator. James and his division fought in the Battle of the Bulge and helped liberate two concentration camps.
James was honorable discharged January 23, 1946 and was a recipient of 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 lives in Cromwell with his wife Cleo. The couple has three grown children.
His brother, Lenzy, was born on May 14, 1926, near Picher, Oklahoma. Drafted in 1944, Lenzy served during the first occupation of Japan as he had tours in the Pacific Theater, Guam, Saipan and Okinawa. Following his discharge in 1945, Lenzy returned to Oklahoma and went into business with his brother operating a Phillips 66 service station along Interstate 40 in Seminole County. He retired in 1990.
Lenzy eloped in October 16, 1951 with Edith Nash, the couple live in Cromwell and have two children, one granddaughter, three grandsons and one great-granddaughter.
Johnson was born October 8, 1942 in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. He graduated high school in 1960 and attended Connors State College on a football scholarship. Following two years of college, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and trained as an in-flight refueling personnel. He was a specialist with the Strategic Air Command squadron and remembers some historic events in the 1960s when the squadron was put on alert out of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.
“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.”
Johnson was discharged after five years of service in 1967 leaving with the rank of staff sergeant. He continued his college courses earning a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Oklahoma, a master’s degree in education from Northeastern State University, and an administrative certification from Oklahoma State University. During his career in education, Johnson fielded many capacities like a teacher, coach and administrator in the Broken Arrow, Perkins-Tryon, Fort Gibson and Amarillo, Texas school districts. Johnson retired after 32 years in 2002.
Johnson spends his time working as a customer representative at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (going on five years) and the restoration of Roselawn, a house on the National Historic Register.
Johnson and his wife, Thrissa, will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year. The couple have three daughters, and two grandchildren.
The Cherokee Nation honors Cherokee service men and women every month during its regular tribal council meetings.