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CHARLES TOWN—Harry E. Johnson, born and raised in East Peoria, Illinois, knew he wished to journey and that his hometown had no actual future for him, so he made the choice to enlist in america Air Drive.
Not figuring out for certain what army job he would qualify for, he took the Armed Providers Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) take a look at and was assigned to plane upkeep.
Johnson headed to primary coaching at Lackland Air Drive Base in San Antonio, Texas, in February 1963. After primary coaching, he traveled to Amarillo to attend know-how faculty after which to Dyess Air Drive Base. close to Abilene, Texas, for his first responsibility station. As soon as there, he was assigned to a crew liable for a C-130. As soon as assigned to the airplane, Johnson stated that the place he went, he went. The crew was certified and authorized, making a number of journeys between Abilene and Pope Air Drive Base in North Carolina.
“We flew TDY (which stands for short-term responsibility) with the C-130E for 4 years, principally all around the world,” Johnson continued.
“My first massive place to journey was Okinawa, Japan, in 1964,” Johnson stated. “Between 1964 and 1965, we flew between 11 and 15 flights between Okinawa and Dyess.”
Johnson shared that he flew missions to Vietnam, together with to Cam Ranh Bay earlier than runways had been constructed there.
“We landed on metallic strips they usually had been loud,” Johnson recalled. “It scared the hell out of me.”
“We hit a number of airstrips in Vietnam within the mountains,” Johnson shared. “We might drop off provides and produce again our troopers who didn’t survive.”
He added that these journeys had been to Clark Air Drive Base within the Philippines, the place a mortuary base was positioned.
Johnson’s travels didn’t finish there. He defined that he left Dyess in 1967 and headed for Yokota, Japan, exterior of Tokyo.
“I’ve to convey my spouse, Janis, with me,” Johnson stated, including that the 2 had married whereas he was stationed in Abilene.
The couple, now married for nearly 57 years, had their first youngster, a woman, whereas in Japan.
Persevering with his profession, Johnson moved to Virginia’s Langley Air Drive Base in 1970, however was there for less than 13 months earlier than heading to Thailand.
Now assigned to an AC C-130 gunship, Johnson shared that this was probably the most rewarding of his excursions.
“My mission was launch and restoration,” he defined. “The plane I used to be piloting was shot down in March 1971 with 22 souls on board. It was the biggest rescue in Southeast Asia carried out by Jolly Inexperienced Big helicopters. They bought everybody out.”
After a quick stint as a recruiter in his hometown of Peoria, Johnson discovered himself at Hill Air Drive Base in Utah, assigned to an air rescue airplane. Bases modified once more, taking Johnson and his household to New Mexico after which, in 1977, to Rhein Foremost Air Base close to Frankfurt, Germany. It was right here that the Johnsons welcomed a son into their household. A 13-month return to america in 1979 assigned Johnson to upkeep management in Altus, Oklahoma, earlier than returning to Germany.
After serving 22 half of years, Johnson retired from the Air Drive in 1985, however his service did not finish there. He then went on to work for the Division of Protection as a logistics specialist till retiring from that profession in 2006. Stationed on the Pentagon with the Military Nationwide Guard Bureau, Johnson continued his travels to just about each state within the nation, in addition to Guam and Puerto Rico.
“It was an incredible job working with the Guard,” Johnson stated.
He continued to work after his retirement as a contract clerk with Caci, shifting tools for the Watch.
“Mainly, it was 51 half of years for Uncle Sam,” Johnson stated.
He shared that Janis additionally served within the Division of Protection, in a profession that spanned 25 years.
No regrets for the person from East Peoria.
“I’d not hand over any of this,” he emphasised.
Johnson continues to serve his group as an officer at Jackson-Perks American Legion Publish 71 in Charles City. He was liable for serving to begin the Biker Group that has escorted completely different fallen troopers to their ultimate resting locations, in addition to different escort particulars.
“The 2 that stand out probably the most are escorting an area soldier killed in Korea, bringing his physique from Dulles to right here,” Johnson stated.
The opposite was accompanying a gaggle of veterans on a flight of honor to Washington, DC, the place they visited the memorials.
“It was rewarding as a result of the troopers, airmen and sailors had been my age,” Johnson stated. “The organizer informed me that I used to be eligible to be on the Flight of Honor which is for folks over 75, however I wished to function his escort.”
“It’s totally rewarding to be a veteran,” Johnson stated of his lifetime of service.