Thomas A. Johnson
- Bureau of Indian Affairs - Ft. Apache Agency
- Age: 47
- Year of Death: 2001
Thomas Alan Johnson loved the beauty of the forest. He was a forester/silviculturalist and a wildland firefighter for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Fort Apache Agency, Branch of Forestry, on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. At various times, he was a team member of both the Eastern Arizona Type II Team and the White Mountain Zone Type II Team as air tactical group supervisor. He was a qualified crew representative, crew boss, division/group supervisor, engine boss, fire fighter 1&2, field observer, strike team leader/crew, task force leader, helibase manager, helicopter crewmember, helicopter coordinator, incident commander 3&4, and firing boss. Thomas’s primary job was as a supervisory forester for the timber sale preparation section.
Tom was a friendly, dedicated hard worker, and he truly loved his job. He once explained that whenever he went out into the forest, he could talk with God and feel His presence among the trees and see the miracles in the beauty of the nature.
Thomas Alan Johnson, was born on January 30, 1954, to Harvey and Arlene Johnson in Monmouth, Illinois. He was proud of his brothers, Mark (Sharon) Johnson and Brian (Tami) Johnson, for their many accomplishments. He was also very close to his only sister, Mariam Duffin. Tom graduated from Sterling High School. He continued his education, receiving a bachelor’s degree at Augustana College, and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois, Department of Forestry.
Tom worked with USDA Forest Service at the Hiawatha National Forest, in Michigan; the North Central Forest Experiment Station in Minnesota; the Tonto National Forest in Arizona; and finally, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Fort Apache Agency in Whiteriver, Arizona.
Tom was protecting the reservation from fire when he sustained the injuries which took his life. He responded to a fire at night and ended up in a hazardous site where the heated toxic fumes severely damaged his lungs. Once he knew the full details of the danger he was in, he saved others’ lives by stopping them from coming into the hazardous area. The incident provided further evidence of Tom’s honorable, self-sacrificing character.
Tom was a member of the Immanuel Lutheran Church in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona, where he was active in the church council, Sunday school, and Power Hour. He was a talented horseman who trained horses for ranches in southern Arizona. Those who knew him best would describe him as a real-life character right out of a Louis L’amour novel.
Tom was a devoted husband, married to a former tribal queen, and was a proud, loving dad. He is dearly missed every day, especially by his family members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the extended Beatty family.
Thomas A. Johnson was a man of honor.