Johnnie Johnson

Johnnie Johnson

James Edgar (Johnnie) Johnson was born at Barrow-upon-Soar, Leicestershire, England, on 9th March, 1916. He studied at Loughborough College and Nottingham University but after being rejected by the Royal Air Force he became a civil engineer.

Johnson was also initially rejected by the RAF Volunteer Reserve but they changed their mind after the outbreak of the Second World War. Selected for pilot training he was sent to Hawarden in Cheshire to learn to fly the Supermarine Spitfire.

In September, 1940, Johnson was posted to 19 Squadron but missed most of the Battle of Britain after being forced to have an operation on his shoulder. When he recovered he joined 616 Squadron where he joined Douglas Bader, Hugh Dundas and Jeff West.

Johnson soon emerged as an outstanding fighter pilot. A master of accurate deflection shooting, a skill he had developed as a child when he hunted rabbits with a shotgun. In September 1941 Johnson was promoted to flight lieutenant and was given command of B Flight.

In 1942 Johnson became squadron leader and in March 1943 was promoted to wing commander and given command of 610 Squadron. The following year he took over the Canadian wing in the recently formed 2nd Tactical Air Force.

By the end of the Second World War Johnson had flown in over 1,000 combat missions. He holds the remarkable record of never being shot down and on only one occasion was his Spitfire damaged by the enemy. Johnson has been credited with 38 kills. Officially this is the highest total of any RAF pilot but some experts believe that John Pattle scored more than 40.

Johnson, who was awarded the DSO and two bars, the DFC and bar, the Legion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre, stayed in the Royal Air Force after the war. He served with the United States Air Force in the Korean War where he was awarded the American DFC.

In 1960 Johnson was appointed senior air staff officer in 3 Group, Bomber Command. He eventually retired in 1966 as Air Officer Commanding, Air Forces Middle East in Aden.

James Edgar Johnson, who lived for a while in Jersey before retiring to Buxton, Derbyshire, died on 30th January, 2001.

In 1937, Johnnie Johnson tried to join the Auxiliary Air Force (AAF). On hearing that he came from Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, the interviewing officer said, "My dear chap, you've just the type. Which hunt do you follow?" When Johnnie said he did not even ride a horse, he was promptly shown the door. Little did that that interviewing officer think he had just rejected the man who, in the second world war, would shoot down more of the enemy than any other pilot in the RAF - and without ever being shot down himself.

The Focke-Wulf 190 was undoubtedly, the best German fighter. We were puzzled by the unfamiliar silhouette, for these new German fighters seemed to have squarer wingtips and more tapering fuselages than the Messerschmitts we usually encountered. We saw that the new aircraft had radial engines and a mixed armament of cannons and machine-guns, all firing from wing positions.

Whatever these strange fighters were, they gave us a hard time of it. They seemed to be faster in a zoom climb than the Me 109, and far more stable in a vertical dive. They also turned better. The first time we saw them we all had our work cut out to shake them off, and we lost several pilots.

Back at our fighter base and encouraged by our enthusiastic Intelligence Officers, we drew sketches and side views of this strange new aeroplane. We were all agreed that it was superior to the Me 109f and completely outclassed our Spitfire Vs. Our sketches disappeared into mysterious Intelligence channels and we heard no more of the matter,. But from then on, fighter pilots continually reported increasing numbers of these outstanding fighters over northern France.

At this time the Spitfire IX was the best air fighter in the world. In my view it was not suitable for beating up the ground targets because its Merlin engine was cooled by a liquid called Glycol, which was held in a small tank just below the propellor. This Glycol tank and the radiator were always exposed to ground fire, at which the Germans were very adept. A single machine-gun bullet through either the radiator or the Glycol tank meant that the engine caught fire or seized up within a matter of a very few minutes. After four years of air fighting, and still remaining sound in wind and limb, the prospect of being shot down by a few rounds fired by some half-baked Kraut gunner did not appeal to me in the least!

The first time I saw my lean and graceful Spitfire with two 500 lb. bombs hanging beneath its slender wings, it seemed to me that she was intolerably burned, and that the ugly blunt bombs were a basic contradiction of all the beauty and symmetry of the aircraft. It was like seeing a beautiful racehorse harnessed to a farm cart.

Johnnie Johnson's performance was even more creditable because he largely missed the Battle of Britain and won his "kills" in fighter-to-fighter combat rather than against heavy bombers. Johnnie's kills were hard-earned, but then Johnson had the two skills needed to be successful; he was a good shot and a good pilot. Lots of people were good pilots, but Johnnie was also a good shot - gifted in the art of deflection shooting.

It is fascinating to watch the reactions of the various pilots. They fall into two broad categories; those who are going out to shoot and those who secretly and desperately know they will be shot at, the hunters and the hunted. The majority of the pilots, once they have seen their name on the board, walk out to their Spitfires for a pre-flight check and for a word or two with their ground crews. They tie on their mae-wests, check their maps, study the weather forecast and have a last-minute chat with their leaders or wingmen. These are the hunters.

The hunted, that very small minority (although every squadron usually possessed at least one), turned to their escape kits and made quite sure that they were wearing the tunic with the silk maps sewn into a secret hiding-place; that they had at least one oilskin-covered packet of French francs, and two if possible; that they had a compass and a revolver and sometimes specially made clothes to assist their activities once they were shot down. When they went through these agonized preparations they reminded me of aged countrywomen meticulously checking their shopping- lists before catching the bus for the market town.

In the autumn of 1942, Wing Commander Jackie Darwin took over cornmand of 244 Wing, composed of two squadrons of Spitfires and two of Hurricanes. Darwin was a regular officer who before the war had served on the North-West Frontier of India and was also a keen follower to hounds. By a tragic misfortune he was dancing with his beautiful wife in the Cafe de Paris in London the night it was bombed, and she was killed in his arms. He never recovered fully from this shock, and developed a great hatred for the Germans and a complete disregard for his own safety. His pilots did not think much of flying next to him, for he always led them through the thickest of the flak, and whereas for sometime he bore a charmed life, his wingmen were not always so lucky.

Johnnie & Jack

Johnnie & Jack mined the familiar turf of singing brother duos in the late '40s through the late '50s with a few distinct twists. For openers, they weren't blood brothers, just brothers in law. Secondly, they brought a new rhythmic strain to country music, both in their use of Latin beats and the unfettered drive of their combo, the Tennessee Mountain Boys. And of all the singing duos, they were the most inclined to stretch the boundaries of their sound, from bluegrass to sacred to amazing covers of R&B tunes with none of their country-soul diluted in the bargain. But for all their melding of outside influences, few artists -- even in the mid-'50s -- were as wholesale committed to sounding as "country" as they were. Whatever they played, sang, or wrote, it always sounded like Johnnie & Jack.

Johnnie Wright and Jack Anglin started playing together in 1938, forming a loose-knit country string band featuring Johnnie's new wife Muriel Deason, whom he would later rename Kitty Wells. Their sound in the early days was heavily influenced by both the Delmore Brothers and the Monroe Brothers, Charlie and Bill. As Johnnie plainly put it, "We were so green we didn't know you needed to develop your own style. We just out and out copied their sound in the beginning." An important member of the unit was Jack's brother Jim Anglin who contributed a high, lonesome tenor harmony both live and on records and contributed mightily as a songwriter during the duo's 25-year partnership.

Johnnie & Jack's band, now named the Tennessee Hillbillies, were just starting up the country food chain with sustaining radio broadcasts on local stations when World War II temporarily put the project on hold as Jack joined the Army. Reunited after the war, Johnnie & Jack -- with Kitty now a permanent fixture of the band -- picked up where they left off, adding an emcee/bass player named Smilin' Eddie Hill and a young guitarist named Chet Atkins to the fold. By 1947, they were filling in for Roy Acuff on the Grand Ole Opry, under the edict that they change their billing (Opry officials were loath to associate with any acts that used the word "hillbilly" in their name) to the Tennessee Mountain Boys and that Kitty sit out the radio performances as the Opry was top-heavy with female singers at the time.

At years' end, they had finally made their first records for the R&B-based Apollo Records out of New York City. After the non-success of those early 78s (the company refused to send promotional copies to radio stations to promote sales and airplay) and a quick side project with Ray Atkins and Clyde Moody as the King Sacred Quartette for the King label, the duo started recording for RCA Victor -- their longest lasting label affiliation -- in 1949. But even with Kitty recording solo and supplying high baritone harmonies on the duo's records, success proved elusive for the next few years. The troupe moved from one radio station to another, logging in time with the Louisiana Hayride and stations as far afield as Georgia and North Carolina. All of that changed with the release of their first hit, "Poison Love," in 1951, the tune making the Top Ten on all three Billboard country charts at the time. What Johnnie & Jack had done to crack the charts was to take their straight bluegrass harmonies and wed them to a distinct rhumba beat, principally supplied by studio bassist Ernie Newton, playing a maracca and wire brush simultaneously while handling the bass part. In the dark days of country music, where drums were outlawed on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and electric instruments were only grudgingly accepted, this new approach was novel and influential. The combination proved a winner, one that the duo would return to on several recordings, complete with cha cha endings, which would become a Johnnie & Jack trademark. With Kitty's success assured after the mega-success of "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels," the duo combined with her to become one of the most in-demand road shows in country music. Within a couple of years, their sound would change again, adding bass singer Culley Holt from the Jordanaires to countrify a batch of R&B recordings, including the Moonglows' "Sincerely," the Four Knights' "(Oh Baby Mine) I Get So Lonely," the Delta Rhythm Boys' "Kiss Crazy Baby," and the Spaniels' "Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight," all hits in the country field for the duo. This helped handle the onslaught of rock & roll better than most country artists of the day while keeping the roots of their sound intact. Johnnie & Jack made the Billboard country charts a total of 15 times and probably would have had more entries if the mid-'50s charts weren't limited to only mirroring the Top Ten songs of the day.

But by the late '50s, Johnnie & Jack's records were being mainstreamed into the Nashville Sound, with the Jordanaires, the Anita Kerr Singers, saxophones, and full rhythm sections burying their plaintive vocals beneath layers of reverb and pop sugar coating. Dissatisfied, the duo let their contract run out and signed with Decca Records in 1961. Their new company changed the spelling of their name to "Johnny & Jack," but at last the duo and Kitty were all on the same label again and with labelmates like Patsy Cline, Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce, Red Foley, and Bill Monroe, they couldn't have been in better company. The contract produced no more hits than the tail end of their tenure with RCA, but with Kitty racking up hit after hit, the troupe had all the road work it could handle. It was coming back from one of these road trips that they were to learn of the plane crash deaths of Patsy Cline, Cline's manager, Randy Hughes, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas. On his way to the funeral parlor to attend memorial services for his fellow performers, Jack Anglin's car spun out of control, killing him instantly, thus ending the duo of Johnnie & Jack on an especially sad note.

Johnnie Johnson’s Spitfire Revisited

“I found the engineer officer and together we had a look at her, gleaming and bright in a new spring coat of camouflage paint. Later I took her up for a few aerobatics to get the feel of her, for this was the first time I had flown a Mk IX. She seemed very fast, the engine was sweet and she responded to the controls as only a thoroughbred can. I decided that she should be mine, and I never had occasion to regret that choice.”
W/Cdr James Edgar “Johnnie” Johnson about his first encounter with EN398

The recent article about RAF leading fighter ace Johnnie Johnson and his aircraft prompted me to do some further research into the look of his Spitfire, the work which resulted in the two colour profiles and a few findings presented below.

As is widely known, Johnson scored the bulk of his victories flying two Spitfires Mk. IX. The first one was EN398, JE-J, the subject of this article, in which he shot down 12 aircraft and shared five plus six damaged while commanding the Kenley Wing. His second mount, MK392, was an LF Mk. IX, in which his tally increased by another 12 aircraft plus one shared destroyed on the ground. His last victory of the war in September 1944 was scored in the latter aircraft. He ended the war flying yet another Spitfire, Mk XIVe, MV268. As a Wing Leader Johnson was entitled to personal code letters and his aircraft were always marked JE-J.

Spitfire Mk. IX EN398

EN398 was part of batch EN112 to EN759 built by Vickers Armstrong between November 1942 and August 1943. This lot was originally ordered as Spitfires Mk. VC but as new marks of the fighter reached the production-ready status, it became a mixture of Mks. VII, IX, XI and XII.

EN398 was representative of the early production Mk. IX. The following features are distinctive of this aircraft:

  • “C” type wing with two cannon but broad cannon blisters,
  • Small teardrop blister at starboard engine cowling housing the cabin blower driveshaft
  • “Small” carburettor intake
  • Single-angled horn-balanced elevator

The Merlin 63 engine was equipped with fuel cooler featuring a prominent circular intake in the port wing root. All these features are further described in the article Spitfire Mk. IX, XI and XVI – Variants Much Varied also available at this site.

The aircraft was first issued to No. 402 Squadron RCAF on 18th February 1943. In service with this unit it initially received code letters AE-I. In March, as it became the regular aircraft of F/Lt Ian Keltie, it was recoded AE-B and the ground crew added a nose art of Popeye on the port cowling side. On 22 March 1943 EN398 was transferred to No. 416 Squadron RCAF remaining on charge until the end of the month when it was listed as part of the Kenley Station HQ Flight. In the meantime, Johnson took command of the wing on 16 March. Presumably this was when Johnson adopted it as his own.

The Camouflage

Spitfire Mk. IX, serial no. EN398, JE-J
Personal aircraft of W/Cdr Johnnie Johnson, commanding officer of the Kenley Wing
Summer 1943
Click to enlarge image

Although the aircraft was still only two months old, it would seem that it was repainted before transfer to the HQ flight. Johnson recalled receiving it “gleaming and bright in a new spring coat of camouflage paint.”. The two published photographs of EN398 taken about July 1943 indeed show a rather shiny semi-gloss finish.

Johnson claimed his first kill on this aircraft on 3 April 1943. Soon EN398 was soon sent to Air Service Training, Hamble to undergo some modifications, returning to Kenley on 16 April. Most probably, the modification was mounting a gun camera in the starboard wing root. AST Hamble did this routinely on many initial production Mk. IXs, on which the gun camera was omitted to leave room for the fuel cooler intake in the port wing.

Even if the aircraft was repainted, its camouflage pattern followed pretty closely the factory finish that can be seen on many early Mk. IXs, characterised by gently curved demarcation lines with a notable “S” on the port side below the cockpit and, presumably, another “S” curve on top of the cowling.

Fuselage roundels in standard position, with JE-J lettering applied as shown – the forward “J” being placed higher than the rear letters. Serial number EN398 was applied in small serif-style lettering on top of the fuselage band. These were probably hand-painted or, alternatively, applied by stencils and touched-up to remove the stencil marks. Note that the number is painted at a slight angle to the fuselage datum.

A peculiarity visible on the photos of EN398 is the patch of fresh paint between the roundel and the forward “J”, apparently a sign of some repainting. It could have been a fresh application of Ocean Grey – as shown here – or some other colour, perhaps grey-green primer.

A Canadian Maple leaf on a white circular background was carried on both sides of the fuselage under the windscreen. Its colour has been a matter of some controversy. In his memories, Johnson stated that the the leaf on his aircraft was green. However, all the Canadian squadrons of the Kenley wing had this national symbol painted in red. Was green the conscious decision on the part of Johnnie to underline his British origin, or did the memory fail him on this rather small detail? Perhaps we will never know. I have chosen red for my profiles.

It is known that “Johnnie” customised his aircraft. Like many other aces, he ordered EN398’s guns to be harmonized according to his personal preference. Judging from the photos it would also seem that the circular rear view mirror was attached to a modified, taller mount.

Port view of EN398 (reconstruction)
Click to enlarge image

The port side of Johnson’s JE-J has, to my knowledge, escaped the attention of photographers. The following profile is my attempt an the reconstruction, using available information and the camouflage pattern which the aircraft carried while still in the markings of AE-B.

The codes JE-J on this side of the fuselage would fit under the rear part of the canopy as shown. The rear “J” would occupy only the portion of space between the fuselage roundel and the Sky band. Presumably the serial number was painted on the latter in the similar position and style as on the opposite side.

Johnson ordered the red and blue pennant of a Wing Commander to be applied on his aircraft. Most commonly these pennants were painted on the port side of the cowling below or in front of the windscreen. In the case of EN398 the most logical placement would be in front of the Canadian Maple leaf badge.

The last point worth mentioning is the absence of the kill marks. It may seem odd that the one of the top RAF fighter aces with all the fame and publicity which surrounded him would not have his double-figure victory tally reflected in the form of kill marks on his aircraft. Well, maybe they were there, maybe not – there is no conclusive evidence either way. If you prefer to believe that they were painted on his aircraft, you should know that JE-J finished his operational tour on EN398 with 25 confirmed victories, so any number of black crosses between 13 and 25 would be appropriate.

During the six months of flying with EN398, Johnson had shot down 12 enemy aircraft, sharing the destruction of 5 more. Remarkably, EN398 never caused him any technical trouble and never suffered any damage due to enemy action. After Johnson finished his tour and moved on to No. 11 Group Headquarters, his aircraft went to No. 421 Squadron for a couple of weeks before sustaining damage necessitating its return to Hamble for repairs. The aircraft never returned to operations, spending time in store for the remainder of the war.

History of Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson was founded by three brothers named Robert, Edward, and James Johnson. The company was founded in 1886 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. They initially focused on the production of wound care products like bandages and sutures, and baby products. The first products featured a logo resembling the signature of James Wood Johnson, which is similar to the logo used today. Robert Wood Johnson’s granddaughter, Mary Lea Johnson Richards was the first baby to appear on Johnson & Johnson baby products.

Johnson & Johnson provided supplies for soldiers wounded in the Spanish-American war and later sold first aid kits to railroad workers before they became widely available. They also sold health products related to baby and maternity care, making at-home childbirth safer and more hygienic and was one of the first companies to offer family planning products including spermicidal jelly, Ortho Gynol.

In 1944, Johnson & Johnson became a publicly traded company and acquired a groundbreaking company which became Ethicon, for the production of sterile surgical sutures. In 1959, J&J acquired McNeil Laboratories, maker of Tylenol and in 1961, acquired Janssen Pharmaceutica a German manufacturer of prescription medications. Since then, the company has acquired a number of other companies and brands including medical device company, DePuy Synthes, Centocor Biotech, Pfizer’s consumer health products including Listerine, Omrix biopharmaceutical company, and Megadyne Medical Products and Torax Medical, both medical device companies.

In the last decades, Johnson & Johnson has continued its acquisitions and expansions but has also added to its reputation as a philanthropic organization which has provided assistance during wartime and disasters. Today, the company is most known for their support of HIV/AIDS patients and children’s health.

Johnnie B. Bad Is Finally Out of the Shadows : Pop music: Pianist Johnnie Johnson helped shape rock history backing Chuck Berry. Now, he’s in the spotlight and working with the likes of Keith Richards and Eric Clapton.

Lots of musicians would consider it a career highlight to play with a musical legend, but pianist Johnnie Johnson has done it at opposite ends of a 40-plus-year career.

In 1952, he hired a local singer-guitarist in St. Louis to fill out his trio for a New Year’s Eve show: Chuck Berry. In late 1990, he recorded his first major-label album, “Johnnie B. Bad,” for Elektra’s American Explorer series, and a couple of rock guitarists pitched in: Keith Richards and Eric Clapton.

“It feels great to be in this position,” said Johnson, 67, who headlines the Belly Up on Monday. “Hopefully, people will always call me a living legend when I’m introduced at different places. . . . It raises your eyebrows, believe me.”

Johnson doesn’t make that claim lightly. When Berry recorded his classic ‘50s singles--"Maybellene,” “Sweet Little Sixteen,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Johnny B. Goode” et al.--there was Johnson, helping shape the arrangements and inserting the rollicking piano embellishments into riffs that would become enduring elements in the rock ‘n’ roll vocabulary.

“Well yes, that’s me,” Johnson said during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Harrisburg, Pa. “They supposedly shot a capsule out in space some years ago (containing some Chuck Berry records). . . . If it would be discovered in years to come, they might not know what they’re listening to, but I’ll be there.”

Johnson, who also played jazz and big band over the years, accompanied Berry on stage for 28 years, and they still occasionally get together--Johnson will be playing with him at a Chicago show next month.

“I could tell it right after he had ‘Maybellene’ that he was going to be a big wheel in music,” Johnson said of Berry. “He was playing something different, and the public is always looking for something different, and it had a heck of a beat. Plus the lyrics were catchy. I didn’t know he would go as big as he did go, but I knew he would be big.”

The relationship has survived some disparaging comments by Berry in his autobiography about Johnson’s drinking. But the pianist doesn’t complain about the criticism.

“It didn’t hurt, because it was true,” he said. “I used to be a heavy drinker, and it did interfere with my playing. . . . In fact, reading things like that and doing stupid things while I was in this stupor, I mean it brought me out of it. I haven’t touched a drink now in the last three years. I’m strictly a pineapple juice man.”

Johnson, who also worked in a steel foundry, in construction and in auto plants, began his move toward center stage when he met Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards during the filming of the 1987 Berry musical tribute film, “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

“Keith’s a buddy, he’s a doll,” Johnson said. “Really, he’s the one responsible for me being out here now like I am, ‘cause he kept saying: ‘You can do it, why don’t you try? Stop playing in somebody else’s shadow, get out there on your own.’

“He’s the one that really triggered me off into this. Like we got together with this ‘Tanqueray’ (a song on Johnson’s album that Richards produced). He said, ‘Now we got the music, now you’re gonna sing.’ I told him, ‘You’re jokin’, because I can’t even talk, much less sing.’ He said, ‘Go ahead on and try it you never know.’ And I got up enough nerve to try it.

“Now I (don’t have) mike fright anymore. That was my biggest trouble. I could play to a million people on piano, but I couldn’t say hello to three of them out there in an audience on the mike. But I’m kind of getting over that now.”

While Johnson is enjoying the spotlight, he has no regrets about his auxiliary role in rock history.

“I was just glad to be out there and was very comfortable playing with Chuck,” he said. “Not being out front was no problem. ‘Cause the people will notice you whether you’re out front or not. I think I got recognition. I didn’t feel like I’d been neglected. I was just tryin’ to make a style with Chuck, which we did.”

Johnnie Johnson - History

"It is with pleasure and sadness that I am able to report to you. I think you might know where the sadness comes from. First let me report on Lt. Barrick. I do not know where his name came from, perhaps it is Johnnie himself since both were members of the Love Company, 21st Infantry at the fight of Chochiwon on July 11, 1950. I was also a member of that same company. Lt. Barrick was never a POW, however, he did die at the hands of the Koreans on July 7, 1950.

"Let me tell you what happened, this as told to me by Lt. Wadie Roundtree. When Wadie (Jiggs) was captured and taken past a spot where Lt. Barrick was laying besides the road without any clothing on his upper Torso and was holding his bleeding head, apparently mortally wounded, Jiggs was able to ask him if the North Koreans had done this to him, his answer was yes. Wadie was wired to another POW and that is all that could be done for Lt. Barrick. When I passed by that same spot, somewhat later, it looked like Lt. Barrick had been run over by a tank. Both Lt. Roundtree and myself were tied together with Telephone wire, in separate groups."

Lt. Col. Ralph "Eli" Culbertson, 21st Infantry, Love Company

Capture is such a horrible and terrifying event. You don't know what will happen to you. We had already seen men with their hands tied behind them and shot in the back of the head. You think that you, too, will be shot after being tortured. All of us were beaten soundly. And, as we moved back through their front lines, attempts were made by the front line troops to hit or stab you."

Wilbert "Shorty" Estabrook, B Company, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, U. S. Army, founder, Tiger Survivors. Just a few years after the end of World War II, America found itself mired in another conflict that took our troops to fight on the other side of the world. When communist North Korea invaded South Korea, breaking an established treaty, the United States could not stand by and watch Stalinism spread to another country. Operating according to the "domino theory," America felt that allowing Communism to spread to any other nations would mean that it would quickly move from state to state until the world would be engulfed. Under the leadership of President Harry S. Truman and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the United States won approval and support from the United Nations to begin a campaign to push back the North Korean Army.

The Korean War is often known as the "Forgotten War," because it was a war that the United States did not win (it ended in a stalemate on the line where it had begun), and the American public was enamored with the prosperity at home and did not want to worry about remote foreign affairs. Most Americans only became familiar with the Korean War through the motion picture M*A*S*H in 1970 and the television show that followed it. But there are many more stories about the Korean War than just what the men and women of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital portrayed.

On June 25, 1950, the 24th Division of the Army was on Occupation Duty in Southern Japan when communist forces crossed the 38th parallel. As the fighting began, the North Koreans began to take prisoners, including American civilians on June 29, 1950. The U.N. forces and civilians were moved to Seoul, South Korea where troops from the 24th Division met up with troops from the 21st and others. By October, the group that would endure the Tiger Death March was formed.

"You are now under strict military discipline. We are going to march to Chunggang-jin. No one is to fall out without my permission. If anyone does, I will deal severely with him!" Thus, on the Halloween of 1950, a North Korean major forced the group to turn out their pockets and give up their penknives, and begin a rugged, hundred mile march in the cold, Korean November.

PFC Wayne "Johnnie" Johnson was a young man of eighteen from Lima, Ohio. He was captured as a prisoner of war on July 11, 1950. During his first few nights as a prisoner he watched several of his comrades perish from various means and he realized that no one was keeping track of their deaths. He vowed to preserve their memories so that there families could at least know when and where they died. It was at this point that Johnnie began keeping a list of the dead using a pencil stub and whatever scratch paper he could find.

The prisoners were forced to live in deplorable conditions, and just when they thought that things could not get any worse, a brutal North Korean army major called The Tiger took command. When asked about his name, Mr. Estabrook said, "No one knows the real name of the Tiger. That is a testament to his brutality." The Tiger ordered the prisoners to march for nine days over 120 miles of steep Korean terrain. The weather during that fall had been rather warm during the year of 1950, so the soldiers had continued to wear their summer fatigues through their capture. During the march, the temperature had continued to drop. Sick and exhausted prisoners were dropping rapidly, and their buddies were ordered to leave them for later execution. Even though he knew it was a great risk to his own life, Johnnie was able to record the names of over 100 men who died during the nine-day death march. Johnnie Johnson eventually compiled a list of 496 names of his fellow American soldiers who had given the ultimate sacrifice.

Once the prisoners reached the Yalu River prison camp, Hanjang-ni, even more died. Over 222 soldiers lost their lives during their 4-month stay there. The mild fall led to one of the coldest winters in history. By March 29, 1951 the remaining prisoner weighed less than 100 pounds and were sick and consumed by lice. They were then taken to another camp in ChungGang-jin, where they were nearly killed in friendly fire by B-29 bombers. Miraculously, only one POW was injured in the raid. Finally, they were taken to a Chinese Prisoner of War Camp, Camp #3. The soldiers were forced to participate in a makeshift "parade" and fed huge amounts of rice and steamed bread. After being given new clothing and receiving the first adequate treatment of their experience, they were subjected to brainwashing in order to convert them to Communism.

Only once during his captivity was Johnson's List discovered. While in Chinese control, a guard discovered a copy of the list buried in the wall. He beat Johnnie severely for constructing it, and Johnnie was almost executed. For whatever reason, the guard did not fire the gun that was pointed at Johnnie's head and the list was also spared.

When the prisoners were returned home, the United States interrogated all of the soldiers to find the names of any of their dead brethren. When Johnnie was questioned he pulled the List from a toothpaste tube in which it was hidden. The Captain interrogating Johnny made sure to note the List in his report, and recommended a commendation for Mr. Johnson. However, the Army ignored that recommendation, and the List was forgotten. Some forty years later Johnson's List was discovered when he attended a reunion of those who had survived under the Tiger. A disinterested Army had not put too much thought towards Johnson's List in 1953, but now they gave it a second look. After providing the proof that many Americans who were still listed as missing in action were actually killed, the Army saw fit to reward Johnnie for risking his life to make and save the list. On August 3, 1996 he was awarded the Silver Star for his actions.

Of the 496 names on Johnson's List, eleven persons who died were, or claimed to be, West Virginians. The information Johnnie collected about them follows:

George Milton Barrick, Jr., Second Lieutenant L Company, 21st Infantry. Born in Morgantown, WV on January 11, 1923, Lt. Barrick was the son of George and Margaret Barrick and the brother of William Mathers Barrick. He attended West Virginia University for 3 years and was a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. Lt. Barrick was killed in action when fighting ensued near Chochiwon, South Korea on July 12, 1950. He was reported missing in action and presumed dead until the revelation of PFC John Johnson's list. Tau Kappa Epsilon, on hearing of Lt. Barrick's passing, pledged his surviving son, who lived with Lt. Barrick's wife, Sara E., in Columbus, GA. While serving, Lt. Barrick was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal.

Glenn Maynard Clark, Private First Class Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment. PFC Clark was born in 1932. He was taken as a prisoner of war on the Tiger Death March starting July 12, 1950 and died between November 16 and November 30 of that year at Chunggang-jin, North Korea. During his service, he was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

Robert Gale Detamore, Private First Class Company A, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. PFC Detamore was born on September 9, 1932 to William and Cynthia Detamore in Cowen, West Virginia in Webster County. He was taken as a prisoner of war on July 20, 1950. During the Tiger March, Pvt. Detacore was diagnosed with pneumonia and dysentery. He died at the "Cornfield" near Manpo in North Korea on November 29, 1950. Pvt. Detamore was considered lost until October 23, 1953, when his mother was finally informed. He was promoted posthumously to Corporal on May 1, 1953. Corporal Detamore was awarded the Prisoner of War Medal, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Korean War Service Medal.

Eldred Jennings Hensley, Corporal Company C, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Corporal Jennings was born on October 10, 1930 in Shegon, West Virginia in Logan County. His father was Pete Hensley and his mother was Edna Conley. He was captured by the enemy on July 5, 1950, and forced to participate in the Tiger Death March, until his death on November 5, 1950. He was killed by a guard near Chunggang-jin. Corporal Hensley was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

William V. Kolberg, Corporal Company L, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Born on February 21, 1906 in Maryland, Corporal Kolberg eventually moved to Keyser, West Virginia in Mineral County. He had served as a truck driver during his civilian life, and was married to Thelma V. Corporal Kolberg was taken as a Prisoner of War on July 11, 1950 while fighting near Chochiwon, South Korea. He completed the Tiger Death March and died while a prisoner of war at Hanjang-ni, North Korea on December 28, 1950. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the Nations Defense Service Medal and the Korean War Service Medal.

Keith LaVelle Lingle, Sergeant Headquarters Battery, 63rd Field Artillery Battalion, 24th Infantry Division. Sergeant Lingle was born on February 19, 1919 to Hilda Lingle in Cleveland, West Virginia of Webster County. After working as a Mechanic, Sergeant Lingle enlisted to serve in the Army during the Korean War. He was taken prisoner along the Kum River, South Korea on July 14, 1950, and forced to march on the Tiger Death March. Sergeant Lingle died while prisoner on January 1, 1951 at Hanjang-ni, North Korea. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

Richard Ray Lipes, Corporal Company A, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Corporal Lipes was born on January 13, 1931 to Mr. and Mrs. James M. (Doc) Lipes. He lived in Lewisburg, West Virginia, Greenbrier County. Corporal Lipes worked for a Lewisburg service station before enlisting in the Army at the age of 17. He was quite comfortable in the military and had expressed wishes to his father of being a lifetime military man. Richard went missing in action on July 16, 1950, when he was fighting the enemy. He died of malnutrition upon concluding the Tiger Death March on December 23, 1950. Corporal Lipes was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

William Joseph Rainey, Corporal 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. Corporal Rainey was born in Washington County, Virginia as Oliver Leonard in September of 1928. On June 3, 1950, Oliver was adopted by his foster family, Joe and Violet Rainey of Minden, West Virginia in Fayette County. On February 12, 1951, Corporal Rainey was captured by the enemy while fighting in South Korea. He died a prisoner on June 23, 1951. He was not involved with the Tiger Death March, but was placed on Johnson's List.

Lee Bright Reed, Corporal Company K, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Corporal Reed was born September 2, 1927 to Robert and Cora Reed in Organ Cave, West Virginia of Greenbrier County. He became a Prisoner of War in South Korea on July 7, 1950, and after surviving the Tiger Death March, died of malnutrition and dysentery on November 30, 1950 at Hanjang-ni, North Korea. Corporal Reed was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the Prisoner of War Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

James Cornelius Ruddell, Jr., Captain Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division. Captain Ruddell was born August 25, 1926 to Col. and Mrs. James Ruddell in Ft. Hamilton. We currently do not know the whereabouts or history of Capt. Ruddell, and only know that he was a graduate of West Point, his father was also a military man, and have this testimonial of him as a soldier from RE Culbertson: "He died on January 21, 1951. He died in one of those unheated huts just 12 days after the Death March. There was little or no food on the Death March, and that coupled with staying in an unheated hut must have contributed to his death. I did know Lt. Ruddell very well as a POW and found him to have kept his Military bearing very well, kept himself clean and presented himself as a clean shaven man up until the Death March when I lost track of him."

If you know any more information about Capt. Ruddell or any of the men from Johnson's List, West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history. Contact (304) 558-0230.

About us

The Johnnie Johnson Trust (JJT) was established by Mr. V.H. ‘Johnnie’ Johnson in 1961 as a vehicle to fund Youth Afloat – a charity set up to teach water sports to disadvantaged children, living in the West Midlands.

Johnnie believed that learning to sail would give children an opportunity to better themselves and broaden their horizons. Meeting the challenge to ‘master the waves and wind’ would teach them to work as a team (skipper and crew), to be responsible for their mates and boat and to develop a hobby which could last a lifetime. Importantly, it would also take them off the streets.

Youth Afloat no longer operates as a charity in its own right, but the JJT still exists to fund activities fulfilling the same aims across the UK (priority is given to organisations working in the Midlands). The JJT is now run by Johnnie’s children and grandchildren who are really happy to continue to support a diverse range of organisations in providing life-changing activities for children

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Johnnie Johnson - History

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Johnnie Johnson - History

BISHOP JOHNIE JOHNSON - the fifth son born unto Jeff and Margaret Johnson, November 11, 1923 in Summerton, South Carolina.

He, along with his family spent their early childhood in Summerton, SC. They worked as share croppers (partnership with another farmer) in Summerton, until their older brother, Milligan ventured out and came to Goose Creek and worked with the Mead family on the Marrington Plantation. Parallel to the Biblical story of Joseph sending his brothers back to get the rest of his family. Milligan told him he had parents and brothers. Mr. Mead asked him to bring the rest of his family to Goose Creek. The family, Jeff and Margaret, parents and their children Milligan, Fred, Moses, David, Johnnie, and Henry loaded their few belongings on the back of an old truck and moved to Goose Creek in 1936.

Although the family was not financially wealthy, God blessed them with wealth that reached beyond finance, that is the wealth of love and humane for the family and their fellowman. Because of love, there were some good times shared in the Johnson's household. Johnie and his brothers were sharers. They did things together like fishing, raccoon hunting, sharing the car, and fighting. As a child, Johnie was hot tempered and mischievous. His brother told of the time when Johnie and David had a fight, he said, "Johnie ran behind David with an ax, and David turned around and hit him with a rock, and Johnie got so angry with him until he fell out and fainted. He said, they had to throw water on Johnie to revive him." Johnie joined the US Navy. He was a part of World War II. Johnie returned home from the War in 1946 with a new life. He was saved and filled with the Baptism of the Holy Ghost while in the military. Not only was he saved, but also he had a great determination to spread the GOOD NEWS. He shared his new experience with those he came in contact with.

Brother Johnson, along with Elder James Gwyn started Bible Study in the church of which he was a member. Because the Word was being taught in its fullness by Brother Johnson, he and his family were forced to leave the church, along with those that believed what was being taught by this man Servant. The Calvary Church of God in Christ had its inception in the year of 1944 with an outreach ministry conducted by the late Elder and Mrs. Francis Cooper at the Faithful Hanna Hall in the Howe Hall section of Goose Creek. The Coopers were later joined by other workers such as Mother Maggie Jenkins, (who just celebrated her 90th birthday on Sept. 9th), Sister Bennett, Supt. and Mrs. J.C. Dantzler and others. Calvary took on a new lease on life when Elder Johnie Johnson was appointed pastor over the Lord’s people in 1948.

He married Miss Thelma Barnett in 1946. To this union, eleven children were born. One child is deceased, Christopher Terrance. All of their children are a part of the Church of God in Christ Ministry. He attended the Berkeley County School Vocational Center and obtained a Masonry Trade certificate. He is the founder of the JCI Concrete Company. In 1950, the James H. Lee family was listening to a radio station out of Charleston and heard this preacher (Elder Johnie Johnson). Their hearts were pricked. Later in that year, the Johnson Temple COGIC was organized by Elder Johnie Johnson.

Elder Johnson's entire ministry has been in the COGIC. He is the former interim pastor of Friendship Inspirational COGIC, Tillman COGIC, Faith Temple, Fairfax, and the Mason Temple COGIC. He served the Jurisdiction in the capacity of District Superintendent, Chairman of the Jurisdiction Board, Jurisdiction Treasurer, and Jurisdiction Sunday School Superintendent.

His ministry rose to a very elite level in 1985 when he was appointed Jurisdictional Bishop of the COGIC, South Carolina Jurisdiction. From 1944, when Bishop Johnson first got saved until this present time, Bishop Johnie James Johnson has not lost his zeal to spread the message of the GOOD NEWS. His ministry is still effective. When he became Bishop, there were about 32 churches on the SC Jurisdiction, today, there are about 66 churches with the Church of God in Christ in South Carolina.

SuperValu: Johnny Johnson Owes $3.8 Million

Johnson, who got his start with a $700,000 gift from the Ukrop family, built an inner-city grocery chain called Community Pride, which propelled him to local and national prominence. But ambitious expansion, including the development of the Shockoe Bottom store The Market at Tobacco Row, led Johnson to rack up tremendous debt with his suppliers and ultimately led to the collapse of his empire. (Johnson now runs a cleaning and repair service, Johnny On The Spot.)

SuperValu and Richfood filed a lawsuit Nov. 29 against Johnson's companies — Marketplace Holdings Inc., Community Pride Inc. and The Market LLC — to uphold an award determined by arbitrators Sept. 20.

The arbitrators had found that beginning in January 2002, SuperValu had given Johnson's companies a series of loans to support his business. The loans paid for inventory and for store equipment and remodeling, among other things, the arbitration agreement states.

By May 2004, the agreement continues, Johnson's companies had closed the stores and defaulted on the loans.

Johnson's companies were supposed to pay the $3.8 million plus interest by Oct. 20. "To date, the Companies have refused to comply with the Arbitrators' Final Award and have failed to remit any payment to SuperValu," the lawsuit states.

Verbena Askew, Johnson's attorney, says she can't comment on the suit. "We're actually pursuing the personal injury case," Askew says.

Johnson filed the suit against SuperValu and Richfood March 31, 2004. In it, he alleges that SuperValu and Richfood engaged in "questionable business practices" that harmed his companies, such as "being shorted on product deliveries" and improper collection of manufacturer's rebates.

Johnson also alleges that the companies interfered with his plans for expansion and growth, and that their actions caused him health problems, including ulcers, shingles and impotence.

SuperValu has tried to compel arbitration for this suit as well, Askew says, and is appealing a judge's ruling to go ahead with a jury trial. The case has been scheduled for trial April 12.

Watch the video: Johnnie Johnson - Johnnies boogie