Veteran Salute: Johnny Gutierrez – U.S. Army

Veteran Salute: Johnny Gutierrez – U.S. Army

About Johnny:

BRANCH OF SERVICE: U.S. Army (retired)

RANK: Sgt. 1st Class

YEARS SERVED: 1981-2001

AGE: 49

After completing high school in Texas, Johnny joined the Army. He was the second youngest out of a family of nine. and although a scared 17-year-old, he decided if he wanted to see the world he would need to join the military. His first flight was from Texas to Alabama, and that trip put him in the infirmary for two days. In 1981, basic training had both male and female soldiers, and Johnny had no problem with that, doing what he was told and treating everyone with respect. After basic, he was sent to Arizona for military intelligence school as an analyst soon to be placed with the 101st Airborne unit. Johnny says he enjoyed the physical training, even the long marches with a 75 pound rucksack on his back. He was pushed to his limit but says even at that he pushed himself more.

Johnny spent three years with the 101st and then went to Hawaii for the next three years in the 501st Airborne. His training led him to the Nuclear Security Program in Germany, Bosnia and Korea. While in Korea serving as security manager, Johnny was told not to point at the North Koreans while near the DMZ. Asked how  North and South Korea got along in the early 1980s, he remembers that at the time there was a lot of underdevelopment. He returned in later years and found the DMZ area to be very nice and cleaned up.

In 1995 Johnny and his family spent three years in Germany under the V Corps. He was then sent to Bosnia for a long 90 days, where he found it interesting with many different cultures and difficult to tell one from another. He and his company avoided them as much as possible. He says there are still hazardous areas left behind in Bosnia, but he says he hears that it is a calmer place now.

In 1998, Johnny and his family were sent back to Texas for his duties of training soldiers in the communication field. Johnny retired in June 2001 at the age of 37 as Sgt. 1st Class (E-7). Would he encourage his two sons, ages 21 and 24, to enter the military? His answer is a definite yes. He feels it is good for young people and gives them a growth in responsibilities and a good learning curve. He feels it prepared him for life after the military by providing a good education. He served with the 501st Infantry, 4ID, VCorps, 1-82 FA, and the 101st Airborne. He earned the 4-ARCOMS, 1-MSM, Expert Marksman M16 medals.

After retirement Johnny now trains Army soldiers on computers and with this job travels all over the world as a government contractor with the DOD as a civilian.

Helen Matson, on staff at the Independence Parks and Recreation Department, compiles interviews with veterans at the Truman Memorial Building. Contact her at or 816-325-7860 if you are interested in helping a veteran tell his or her story.