Colonel John Carl Johnson, US Army, was born 23 September 1933 in Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from Central High School in Memphis in 1951. After qualifying for all three military academies in 1952, he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point graduating in 1956. Johnson’s early career included Infantry Branch assignments and training in Germany (1957–1960), the Army Intelligence School and then Special Agent in Charge in Raleigh Field Office for the 111th MI Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (1960–1962). In 1963, Johnson served a tour in Korea as Operations Officer for 2nd/7th Cavalry Regiment. In 1964–1966, while at Fort Carson, Colorado, he was a Company Commander in 5th Mechanized Infantry Division and also the commander of three leadership and training schools. In 1967, he was an Honor Graduate at the US Naval War College.
In 1967, during the first tour to Vietnam, Major Johnson was assigned to Headquarters, 1st Field Forces, as Deputy Chief of Operation, G3. Johnson was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious achievement, in coordinating multi-national operations, particularly during the Tet Offensive. As American combat troops were leaving Vietnam, he returned to Vietnam in 1971 as an Advisor to the 15th Regiment, attached to the Vietnamese 21st Infantry Division (ARVN), whose mission was to break the siege of An Loc. During the period 16 May to 8 June 1972, he repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to actively advise his South Vietnamese counterpart to direct air strikes, destroy enemy tanks, and rally the regiment in several counter-attacks. Notably during 25 May to 8 June, he would have many 24 hour days as he was the only advisor in the regiment. For his repeated and extraordinary heroism during the period, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. On 25 May 1972, Johnson, while under fire, heroically recovered and administered first aid to one of his wounded battalion advisers. For this act of selflessness he was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry.
From 1972 to 1976, Johnson served in multiple command positions at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and in 1977 Johnson was selected to lead initiatives to revitalize the Oklahoma National Guard. In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and Bronze Star, he was awarded the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, and the Oklahoma Distinguished Service Medal.
In retirement, Colonel Johnson championed “Jobs for Veterans” for the State of Oklahoma, as well as teaching “World of Work” for disadvantaged youths with the Guthrie Job Corps. Colonel Johnson now resides in Edmond, Oklahoma.