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Johnson, Leon William

Date of birth:
September 13th, 1904 (Columbia/Missouri, United States)
Date of death:
November 10th, 1997 (Fairfax/Virginia, United States)
Nationality:
American (1776 - present, Republic)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Colonel
Unit:
44th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces
Awarded on:
September 7th, 1943
"For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 1 August 1943. Col. Johnson, as commanding officer of a heavy bombardment group, led the formation of the aircraft of his organization constituting the fourth element of the mass low-level bombing attack of the 9th U.S. Air Force against the vitally important enemy target of the Ploesti oil refineries. While proceeding to the target on this 2,400-mile flight, his element became separated from the leading elements of the mass formation in maintaining the formation of the unit while avoiding dangerous cumulous cloud conditions encountered over mountainous territory. Though temporarily lost, he re-established contact with the third element and continued on the mission with this reduced force to the prearranged point of attack, where it was discovered that the target assigned to Col. Johnson's group had been attacked and damaged by a preceding element. Though having lost the element of surprise upon which the safety and success of such a daring form of mission in heavy bombardment aircraft so strongly depended, Col. Johnson elected to carry out his planned low-level attack despite the thoroughly alerted defenses, the destructive antiaircraft fire, enemy fighter airplanes, the imminent danger of exploding delayed action bombs from the previous element, of oil fires and explosions, and of intense smoke obscuring the target. By his gallant courage, brilliant leadership, and superior flying skill, Col. Johnson so led his formation as to destroy totally the important refining plants and installations which were the object of his mission. Col. Johnson's personal contribution to the success of this historic raid, and the conspicuous gallantry in action, and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty demonstrated by him on this occasion constitute such deeds of valor and distinguished service as have during our Nation's history formed the finest traditions of our Armed Forces."
Medal of Honor - Army (MoH)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Colonel
Unit:
14th Combat Wing, 8th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces
"For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commanding General, 14th Combat Wing, EIGHTH Air Force, from 1943 to 1944. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Colonel Johnson and his dedicated contributions in the service of his country reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Army Air Forces."
Legion of Merit - US Military
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Colonel
Unit:
14th Combat Wing, 8th Air Force, U.S. Army Air Forces
Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Period:
Korean War (1950-1953)
Rank:
Major General
Unit:
3d Air Division, U.S. Air Force
Awarded on:
1952
"For exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility as Commanding General of the 3d Air Division, London, England, from 1948 to 1952. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of General Johnson and his dedicated contributions in the service of his country reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."
Department of the Air Force, General Orders No. 20
Distinguished Service Medal - Air Force
Rank:
General
Unit:
Supreme Allied Commander, U.S. Army
Awarded on:
October 4th, 1961
"For exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility as Air Deputy to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, from 1 May 1958 to 31 July 1961. The superb ability, outstanding diplomacy and strong personal dedication displayed by General Johnson were predominant factors in the attainment of many North Atlantic Treaty Organization objectives which markedly advanced the military strength and readiness of the alliance. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of General Johnson culminate a long and distinguished career in the service of his country and his dedicated contributions in the Service of his Country reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."
Distinguished Service Medal - Air Force
"For exceptionally meritorious and distinguished services to the Government of the United States, in a duty of great responsibility as Director, Net Evaluation Subcommittee Staff/National Security Council, The Pentagon, Washington, D.C., from 1961 to 1965. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of General Johnson culminate a long and distinguished career in the service of his country and his dedicated contributions reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."
Department of the Air Force, General Orders No. GB-70

Sources

  • Photo: Home of Heroes
  • Jordan, Kenneth N., Yesterday’s Heroes, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., USA, 1996.

Photo