Irvin Wallace
CUMBERLAND - Irvin Wallace "Butch" Johnson, 95, of Cumberland, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, Devlin Healthcare Center.
Born April 15, 1924, in Cumberland, Mr. Johnson was the son of the late Joseph Asbury Johnson and Annie Blanche (Bell) Johnson. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Marion V. (Anderson) Johnson; and his second wife, E. Maxine (Smith) Johnson; four brothers, Walter, Edward, Maxwell, and Paul Johnson; three sisters: Ida (Johnson) Rice, Catherine (Johnson) Gall, and Beatrice (Johnson) Senior; and was the last surviving member of his immediate family.
Butch was a United States Army Veteran of World War II having served under General George Patton, Third Army in Europe with the 87th Infantry Division, 345th Infantry Regiment, and was discharged with the rank of Staff Sergeant. He received the Purple Heart, the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, as well as various other campaign medals for Ardennes, Rhineland, Central Europe, the German Occupation Forces, and for his help in the seizure of Baston.
Butch was a member of Saint Luke's Lutheran Church where he sang in the choir and served on the Property Committee for many years. He retired from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 307 with over 60 years of service. Butch was a member of the following organizations: Queen City Lodge 131 A.F.&A.M., the Cumberland Scottish Rite, Inspector General 33 Degree, Personal Representative Emeritus to the S.G.I.F. of Maryland, the Ali Ghan Shrine Club, the Ritualistic Unit of the Ali Ghan Shrine, the Cumberland Chapter Order of DeMolay where he served on the Advisory Board. He was a life-member of B.P.O. Elks 2481, Oakland; the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 245 - Golden Age Eagle; the Cumberland Outdoor Club; the V.F.W. 1411 Cumberland; the Chapter 14 Disabled American Veterans; a member of Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, Maryland, the District of Columbia Chapters; and a member of the 87th Infantry Division Association.
Butch loved to play golf and was on the team of Softball Champs for the Outdoor Club and V.F.W., for many years. He played pool many times for fun.
Butch is survived by his special nieces, Shirley R. Bender, Oldtown, Janis L. Loy and husband, Michael, Fort Ashby, W.Va., and Becky Rogers and husband, Hal; as numerous other nieces, nephews, and close friends.
Friends will be received at the Adams Family Funeral Home, P.A., 404 Decatur St., Cumberland, (www.AdamsFamilyFuneralHome.com) on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, from 2 to 4 and from 6 to 8 p.m. The Queen City Lodge 131 A.F.&A.M., will conduct a service at 7:30 p.m.
A funeral service will be conducted at Saint Luke's Lutheran Church, 1601 Frederick St., Cumberland, on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, at 11 a.m. with Pastor Rick Shives officiating.
Interment will be held at the Maryland Veterans' Cemetery at Rocky Gap.
Pallbearers will be members of the Queen City Lodge 131 A.F.&A.M. Military honors will be accorded at the cemetery by the Post 13 Veterans Honor Guard.
Published on October 8, 2019

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2 posts

Bill Emmer
Oct 13, 2019
I met Butch while he was in rehab at WMHS in 2014. As I got to know him I realized that he was a WWII veteran, and he vividly recalled the horrors of those gruesome battles during one of the coldest winters on record in Europe. It was December, 1944, and by Christmas Eve the situation was bleak for those who, overnight, found themselves behind the lines near Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge—hundreds of thousands of American troops had been surrounded or captured and were freezing and starving. Had General Patton's forces not arrived when they did we would have suffered a terrible defeat that would have added at least another year to that terrible war. This was the second bloodie...st battle in the history of our nation, and Butch was there helping his beloved General save the day. Over 19,000 American soldiers died in this last ditch effort by Hitler to prevent the allies from destroying what was left of his tattered empire.

Although he helped turn the tide, the frostbite he suffered would forever alter his life, ultimately costing him both legs. As he and his men pushed the Nazi forces across the Rhine in early January, Butch was shot and nearly killed. Evacuated to France, he had a Silver Star pinned to his pajamas by an Army Colonel who promised to formally present it to him after he recovered. Further, he was to be commissioned a Second Lieutenant. By the time he recuperated the war was over and instead of that promotion he was returned home without having those medals presented to him. When asked what military base he wanted to be discharged from, he responded “Fort Hill”.

Fascinated by his oral history—mind you, I had to drag it out of him—I realized that he had never been presented that Silver Star, much less the Bronze Star with a V for Valor, or that Purple Heart purchased with a Nazi bullet. Like so many veterans, this gentleman kept his heroics to himself, remembering the horrors and tragedies while downplaying the danger and bravery. I knew I had to do my part to make sure all of us recognized and remembered our very own Irvin Johnson, one of the many teenagers who went to Europe to help put down the madman responsible for the deaths of so many millions.

With the help of some friends in high places, the US Army provided the original citations for these prestigious medals, and the Commandant of the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Major General Rabb, immediately volunteered to make the presentations. For those of you who may not have seen it, the video of that ceremony is available on the Cumberland Times News website. During the reception afterward I was advised that Butch likely was a candidate for the French Legion of Honor, the highest award for a non-citizen of France. I contacted the staff at the embassy in Washington, and a few months later the Consul General of France presented Butch with that very prestigious medal as well.

We lost a hero this week. We knew it was inevitable, but the emptiness I feel with his passing has left a hole in my heart that is growing all too familiar as we all suffer the ravages of time. Butch, and those thousands of American teenagers and young men and women who answered their nation's call and put themselves in harms way to defend our freedom, have left a legacy that will be forgotten or ignored at our peril: Freedom is not free. Many of us swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Butch did his part. It is up to us to do the same.

Godspeed Butch.
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Roxanne Pearrell Hodge
Oct 09, 2019
I am so sorry for your loss. What a great man who served his country well. I know you are in a much better place with our Father above. Rest in Peace