Carl Croston Johnson, Jr.
April 27, 1926 – August 28, 2023

Carl Croston Johnson was born on April 27, 1926, in Bellaire, Ohio, on the border between Ohio and West Virginia near Wheeling, West Virginia.

Though he grew up during Jim Crow racial segregation, Johnson attended a racially integrated high school. Johnson attended Ohio State University, where he studied in preparation to become a dentist.

In 1945, Johnson was drafted into the US Army. He was officially inducted into the US Army Air Force at Fort Hayes in Columbus, Ohio.

Initially, the USAAF assigned Johnson to bases in Texas and Indiana. In early 1946, the USAAF admitted Johnson and 14 other African American draftees into its Tuskegee Army Air Field aviation cadet program Class SE-45-I. Unaccustomed to rampant Jim Crow segregation common in the deep southern United States, Johnson, armed with a train ticket on the more luxurious Pullman Porter sleeping train car, was placed in a segregated coach seat behind the train’s hot engine, ending his trip to Alabama covered in soot. Johnson was also prohibited from the train’s dining car based on race.

Johnson contracted appendicitis during training, and was unable to graduate with Class SE-45-I on January 29, 1946. Concerned that the USAAF would terminate him from the program with dozens of other aviation cadets, he was transferred from TAAF to Enid AAF to participate in Advance Twin Engine Pilot Training, which he completed and graduated from Enid AAF on October 19, 1946.

In 1947 he was discharged. While a student at Ohio State University, Johnson joined the Ohio National Guard as a member of its only African American unit. Johnson met his future wife, Nancy, when he resumed his studies at Ohio State University.

Johnson later returned to active-duty service as a U.S. Army aviator during the Korean War.

During the Vietnam War, Johnson commanded a seven-company aviation battalion. He served as commander of a US Army Aviation Battalion in the Republic of South Korea. Johnson retired from the US Air Force with the rank of colonel after 31 years in the U.S. military.

After his retirement from the military, Johnson served at the Federal Aviation Administration and the US Department of Defense.

Johnson was a Cleveland, Ohio, airport commissioner and deputy director of the Pittsburgh International Airport.

Permission granted from the Carl C Johnson Facebook page

Craig Huntly, Tuskegee Airmen Subject Matter Expert


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