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Family Looks for Hope After Losing Their Vietnam Veteran

Posted at 3:37 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 19:22:51-04

TULSA, Okla. — John Johnson was a father, a friend, and a Vietnam War veteran. His family wasn’t able to see him in the hospital for the last two weeks of his life, but now they're working to grant his lifelong wish.

Julia Evans is Johnson's daughter, and didn't get to see her dad in the hospital because of restrictions on visitations. Johnson died March 29 from health complications, passing on Vietnam War Veterans Day.

"He was a hard worker, and he did everything he could for his family, and he would work as many jobs as he had to,” Evans said. “Two weeks ago, 20 minutes before I was going to go, they said, 'no more visitors anymore'. And so for two weeks no one got to see him. And he died alone.”

Johnson did two tours in Vietnam, and came home to serve in the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. He served alongside lifelong friend Mike Buckendorf.

"He was a man to be emulated. I have to say that,” Buckendorf said. “You just don’t meet people like John every day. They say you’re lucky if you have one friend in your life that’s a true friend, well John was a true friend.”

Evans grew up around Johnson's friendships with his fellow officers. She says certain memories stand out most, like when she and her sister were supposed to be picked up for dates when they were teenagers. Johnson and one of his friends greeted the girls' boyfriends at the door; they were shortly after scared off screaming.

"I don't know what they said," Evans recalls, "but it worked."

Johnson's family and friends are now looking for a way to honor his life. Because of restrictions caused by COVID-19, they can't gather for a funeral. Evans says the family is going to have him cremated and brought home, hopefully for a special service down the line.

That service will hopefully be at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., where Johnson wanted to be buried.

“I think john is more qualified and more deserving than most," Buckendorf said. "I think it would be very fitting if he got buried in Arlington.”

Evans says the service would finally give the family closure, and allow them to celebrate his life.

If you would like to reach out to the family for funeral arrangements, you can contact them through Facebook or email at

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