Robert M. Johnson


Robert Mechem Johnson
Flight Leader, Flight A, 522nd Squadron

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Interment Message
by Lt. Col. James Eastland, Chaplain

      Captain Robert Mechem Johnson was born July 2, 1921 in Roswell, New Mexico and died January 26th, 2001 in Sonoma, California. He was 79 years of age. He established a record of service to his country and his family. His youth coincided with a time of crisis in our nation and in the history of the world, the years of World War II. America had joined with England and other free nations to fight against the totalitarian invasion of Hitler in Eastern Europe. Then as we became more and more involved, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. With war on two fronts America was plunged into an all out and accelerated effort to assure freedom and order in the world.
      Robert joined the United States Army Air Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant on Sep 6, 1942. He completed his training as an aviation Cadet at Brooks Field, Texas, flying the A-24 and A-31. He made his first flight in the A-36 while at Key Field, Mississippi during November and December of 1942. He is quoted as saying, "We embarked at New York and landed at Oran, North Africa with an average of just fifty to seventy five hours of flying time logged. We were at Rabat, Morroco for two months, and then eight of us put in for transfer to combat. I was sent to the 27th Division with two other pilots, while the rest went on to the 86th at Gela, Sicily. I took the A-36 up for one test flight, and then I was in combat."
      Bob went from 2nd Lieutenant to 1st Lieutenant, then to Captain and became a Flight Leader. To really appreciate what this meant to be a flight leader, I will read an exerpt written by Peter C. Smith, with whom Bob was associated..
      "The Flight Leader was responsible for lining up on a target. He waggled his wings, then you split over on your back and rolled over. To keep in formation, the last pilot in a line of eight planes would actually have to be over vertical. The target would pass under the leading edge of your wing, then you would roll over, weaving on the way down to dodge the flak. The leader would fire his guns on the way down to discourage the gunners. Bomb release was by using instinctive timing with reflector gun sighting aiming."
      Bob also flew the P-40 and P-47. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross Air Medal. He flew a total of 94 combat missions in Sicily and Italy between August of 1943 and July 1st of 1944. The group received two Presidential citations. Bob was honorably discharged from the military service on September 6, 1946, exactly four years from the date of entering service.
      On a visit to Wright-Patterson Air Base in Dayton Ohio he visited their Air Museum. And there was a familiar object, the restored A-36 that had been flown by another 27th Fighter Bomber Group pilot, Larry Dye. It was restored by the Minnesota Air Guard and I believe is the only A-36 still in existence. (This paragraph added by C. Dills 2002.1017)

      He was married to his wife of 55 years, Vaunceil, on September 10, 1945 at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas, one year prior to discharge. He graduated from Denver University in 1948. His civilian career of 35 years was Mortgage Banking with beginning date of 1950 and retirement in 1985.
      Bob was a member of the 27th Fighter Bomber Group Association. He was a member of SIRS, Branch 27, and a loyal member of St Andrew Presbyterian Church in Sonoma. He served as Elder and as Treasurer several years ago, previously having held these offices in the Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church.
      He is survived by his wife, Vaunceil Johnson; a daughter Barbara Adams of Fremont; Grandaughters Alyson and Anne Marie Adams; a Son, David Johnson and wife Stephanie of Pinole; Grandaughter Alaysia Johnson of Orinda; Grandson Brian Johnson; and Grandson Jeffery Amido and wife Jennifer of Guadalupe, California, and Great Grandson Noah Amido.

      Note: The above picture was taken at the 1998 meeting of the 27th FBG in San Francisco. It is not the best picture and I will be glad to replace it when I get a better one.
      The black and white picture was taken in Italy with the squadron, probably late 1943 or early 1944.