Rank and organization:   Colonel, U.S. Army Air Corps, 44th Bomber Group,
9th Air Force.
Place and date:   Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 1 August 1943.
Entered Service at:
Birth:   13 September 1904, Columbia, Mo.
54, 7 September 1943.
Citation:   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, 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.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)