Council Honors Vet Archie Johns

By Judy Weeks

BRIGHTON — The Tribal Council held a meeting in Brighton on Dec. l5, 2006. In addition to their regularly scheduled business, they took advantage of an opportunity to acknowledge one of the Tribe’s military veterans.

Asking Archie Johns to step forward, Brighton Council Representative Andrew Bowers spoke briefly about the Tribe’s pride in its veterans and their contribution to mankind.

Bowers gave a brief history of Johns’ military career and then presented him with a metal case which contained the U.S. Army Service Medal and a Marksman’s Badge. Dressed in a patriotic red, white and blue Seminole patchwork shirt and matching hatband, Johns humbly accepted his award and thanked the Seminole Tribe.

While attending the Chilocco School in Oklahoma during the mid 1950s, Archie Johns volunteered for service in the National Guard. Taking his enlistment very serious, he spent long hours training with his local unit.

Rather than returning to Florida upon completing his education in 1958, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was assigned to the 45th Division Infantry and reported to Fort Leonard Wood, MS., for basic training.

Because he excelled on the rifle range, Johns was singled out for a light weapons detail and sent to Monterey, Calif., for training on use of the M1 Rifle. Here he practiced constantly on still and moving targets. He was also given months of defensive training in preparation for possible combat duty. Upon graduation, he had accumulated sufficient points to qualify as a marksman.

Although he trained for service in Vietnam, by 1960 the U.S. was only involved in an advisory capacity. Therefore, with his enlistment complete, he returned home to Florida.

Living at Brighton, he married his wife of 39 years, Mary Frances. They had five children, of which two boys and one girl are still alive today.

At first he was employed at odd jobs in the Brighton vicinity, but then became a dump truck driver for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at Big Cypress. Learning heavy equipment, he took over operation of a dragline on road construction projects. In later years, he applied for and received a position with the Land Use Program at Brighton as a machine operator and then a mechanic’s supervisor.

Unfortunately his wife passed away in 2004, leaving him to fill his days with his job and taking care of his home. He frequently enjoys the company of his children and grandchildren, who are of course, the legacy of their marriage.