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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
John A. Johnston
Maj. Gen. John A. Johnson was born on January 30, 1923 in Ripley, Ontario, Canada. In the summer of 1923, his family moved to Detroit, Michigan.
His first pilot training was in a "cub" during the summer of 1942. That fall, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and in 1944 completed training, during which he flew PT-23, BT-13, AT-6 and P-40 aircraft.
He was shipped to Europe with the 162nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron when it was formed in July, 1944 and flew P-51s, in which he completed 98 combat missions during World War II. He was shot down and parachuted over France, where he was rescued by the Free French Patriots and returned through enemy lines to a hospital where he remained for 30 days to recover from his injuries.
Gen. Johnson was released from active duty in 1945, but remained in the Reserves and joined the 171st Fighter Squadron when it was formed in 1946. He commanded the 171st when recalled to active duty during the Korean War in 1951. The next year he became a flight instructor and Selection Commander at Air Force instrument training school and all weather school. Gen. Johnson was again released from active duty and in 1952, re-established the Michigan Air National Guard, and was assigned its commander.
He was appointed Asst. Adjutant General of Michigan in 1959 and served as Commander HQ Michigan Air National Guard. He was appointed Adjutant General of Michigan in 1974 and retired in 1983.
Gen. Johnson had 8,000 plus hours of flying time in 25 types of aircraft. He earned the Distinguished Service Medal, Air Medal with 15 Oak Leaf Clusters, and Purple Heart, as well as an additional 14 service-connected medals.
From 1983-1995, he was a consultant doing business with Department of Defense agencies, airlines and aircraft manufacturers.
Maj. Gen. John A. Johnson was enshrined into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 6, 2001.