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Wilkes County Veterans History Project: George Johnson

Tactical Sergeant George Johnson

George W. Johnson relaxing on his bunk near Kapyong, South Korea (August 1951). 

George W. Johnson wearing his uniform.

George W. Johnson's Hawaiian photobook. 

George W. Johnson with his comrade while holding military guns.

George W. Johnson's tent with his name and rank highlighted outside (February 1941).

George W. Johnson wearing his helmet and smoking a pipe (February 1941).

George W. Johnson and his squadmate, "Blackie" (February 1941). 

Military jeep trucks operated by George W. Johnson (February 1941).

George W. Johnson (left) and his comrade's hazing, Johnny Stevens (center) (February 1941). 

George W. Johnson's comrade, Johnny Stevens, tied to a gun cart (February 1941). 

A machine that can lay 400 feet of macadam road in 15 minutes (February 1941). 

George W. Johnson filming the 24th Infantry Division's attack on enemy positions near Masogu-Ri, South Korea using his Eyemo camera (May 20, 1951). 

George W. Johnson's Hawaiian photobook. 

Photos taken while George W. Johnson was visiting the Hawaiian Islands.

Photos of structures taken in Kailua, Hawaii. 

Photos of landmarks and scenery taken in Honolulu, Hawaii. 

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel located in Waikiki (Honolulu, Hawaii).

More photos of The Royal Hawaiian Hotel located in Waikiki (Honolulu, Hawaii).

Photos taken in the Kona area (Hawaii).

Photos of George W. Johnson taken in Kawaihae, Hawaii. 

Boxing matches held in Waimea, also known as Kamuela (Hawaii). 

Hula dancers in Waimea, also known as Kamuela (Hawaii). 

My uncle, George W. Johnson, was born December 27, 1918, in Binghamton, NY. As near as I have been able to determine, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1939 at the age of 20. In October of that same year, the U.S. Army assigned him to Company H, 10th Infantry, and in 1942, commended his service as a machine gun leader and instructor in the Southwest Pacific region, where he participated with his regiment at the Battle of Guadalcanal. Johnson also survived WWII and served as a motion picture cameraman with the 24th Division of the U.S. Army in the Korean War. He resigned from the Army in late 1951 or early 1952 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in the photography division. Later stationed in Alamogordo, NM, my uncle photographed tests at White Sands Missile Range before retiring from the Air Force in 1967 as a technical sergeant at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.

I knew George W. Johnson as Uncle Georgie. Today, I go by his first name and middle initial (which doesn't stand for anything). He also nicknamed me "Skeeter" because I was constantly buzzing around the house like a mosquito as a toddler. When I was about 12 years old, Uncle Georgie introduced me to stamp collecting, and I'm still doing it. In 9th grade, he talked my mother into letting me live with him and his second wife, Margaret, in Orlando, FL, where the U.S. Army stationed him. I returned home after a year but continued corresponding with him through high school, and later learned he had wanted to adopt me. I wouldn't have been able to pay for my first year of college if it hadn't been for the modest financial contribution from him and Aunt Margaret.

In 1968, Uncle Georgie, now based at Vandenberg Air Force Base, was traveling back East to visit family. He stopped off in Iowa City, where I had started grad school. At the time, I had a mustache, long hair past my shoulders, and was very active in the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. Being the patriot he was, he expressed his disappointment in me for the direction my life had taken, and that was the last I heard from him. Buried in Lompoc, CA, where the U.S. military last stationed him, he died in 1996.