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Gen Leon William Johnson
Birth: Sep. 13, 1904
Boone County
Missouri, USA
Death: Nov. 10, 1997
Fairfax City
Virginia, USA

US Air Force General and World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Born in Columbia, Missouri, his family moved to Moline, Kansas when he was a teenager. After graduating from high school, he received an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1922 and graduated in June 1926 with a commission as a second lieutenant in the infantry. Three years later, he transferred to the US Army Air Corps and learned to fly, serving in various flying operations assignments prior to World War II. After the US entry into World War II, he was one of the first four flying officers of the Eighth Bomber Command (later part of the 8th Air Force) that was activated at Langley Field (now Joint Base Langley-Eustis) in January 1942 and reassigned to Savannah Air Base Georgia the following month, and served as assistant chief of staff for operations. He then accompanied the 8th Air Force to England in June 1942 and in January 1943, as a colonel, he assumed command of the 44th Bombardment Group which relocated to Africa to assist the 9th Air Force for Operation Tidal Wave, the planned attack on the oil refineries and associated infrastructure in Ploesti, Romania. For his part in that 1 August 1943 raid, he was awarded the Medal of Honor on September 7, 1943. After returning to England in September 1943 he organized the 14th Combat Wing, commanding it until the end of the war in Europe. He then returned to the US and was assigned as chief of personnel services, Headquarters Army Air Forces in Washington, DC, later becoming deputy to the assistant chief of air staff for personnel. In April 1947 he was assigned to Strategic Air Command as commanding general of the 15th Air Force at Colorado Springs, Colorado. In August 1948 he organized the 3rd Air Division (later re-designated as 3rd Air Force) in England, as a separate major command of the US Air Force which supplied transport aircraft for the Berlin Airlift and in February 1950 he was appointed, in addition to his other duties, chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group for the United Kingdom. In February 1952 he was named commander of the Continental Air Command at Mitchel Air Force Base (now decommissioned), New York and the following year, he was appointed the US Air Force Representative, Military Staff Committee, United Nations as an additional duty. In 1956 he was named the US Representative to the North Atlantic Military Committee, Military Representatives Committee, and Standing Group of North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with duty station in Washington, DC. While in that position, he was promoted to the rank of general on August 31, 1957. In May 1958 he became the Air Deputy to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, at SHAPE Headquarters in Paris, France, and retired from that position on July 31, 1961. Six weeks later he was recalled to active duty to become the director, Net Evaluation Subcommittee Staff/National Security Council, in Washington, DC, serving in that position until he retired again in 1965, with 39 years of active military service in the US Army, the US Army Air Corps, and the US Air Force. Other than the Medal of Honor, his military awards and decorations include the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the French Legion of Honor, grade of Chevalier, the French Croix de Guerre with palm, the Belgian Croix de Guerre with palm, and the Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom). He was a rated command pilot. After his military retirement, he did consulting work in the Washington DC area and was a past president of the National Capitol Dahlia Society. He died of a respiratory infection in Fairfax, Virginia at the age of 93. His Medal of Honor citation reads: "For conspicuous gallantry in action and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on August 1, 1943. Col. Johnson, as commanding officer of a heavy bombardment group, let 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 reestablished 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."
 (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
Family links: 
  Lucille Taylor Johnson (1904 - 1983)*
*Calculated relationship
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County
Virginia, USA
Plot: Section 7A, Lot 209, Map Grid U-23/24
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Record added: Jul 25, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 11165
Gen Leon William Johnson
Added by: Ron Moody
Gen Leon William Johnson
Added by: PPJ
Gen Leon William Johnson
Added by: Don Morfe
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- Stacey
 Added: Dec. 18, 2016

- sjm
 Added: Nov. 10, 2016
General, thank you for your lifetime of leadership and service to our country while serving United States Air Corps and Air Force. May you rest in peace, sir.
- Daniel Moran
 Added: Nov. 10, 2016
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