Johnson, James Kenneth, Col

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Primary Unit
1961-1963, Tactical Air Command (TAC)
Service Years
1939 - 1963

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

64 kb

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Johnson, James Kenneth, Col.

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Phoenix, Arizona
Last Address
Las Vegas, Nevada

Date of Passing
Aug 22, 1997
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section 65, Site 2310

 Official Badges 

Commander Headquarters Air Force Air Force Retired

 Unofficial Badges 

Cold War Medal Air Ace American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal

 Military Association Memberships
American Fighter Aces Association
  2017, American Fighter Aces Association

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
"Colonel Johnson got his first aerial victory during World War II while flying with the 9th Air Force. During the Korean War he became a Double-Ace with 10 victories in that war, bringing his total in the two wars to eleven aerial victories. His exploits during the Korean War prompted Stars and Stripes to dub the F-86 pilot 'The Mayor of Sabre Jet City,' and when he married his wife, Sylvia, in 1979, U.S. statesman Barry Goldwater was his best man."  Source:

In addition to the units reflected on the right panel, Colonel James Kenneth was also an Instructor Pilot, Project Officer and Base Commander at Ellington AFB, Texas, as well as Commander of the 3605th Navigation Training Group at Ellington during the period between 1945 and 1951.

He retired from the USAF Nov 30, 1963. He died at 81 years of age in Henderson, Nevada after a prolonged battle with cancer.

His Distinguished Service Cross citation:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to James K. Johnson, Colonel, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Pilot of an F-86 type aircraft, 335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, FIFTH Air Force, in action against enemy forces in the Republic of Korea on 30 June 1953. Colonel Johnson was leading a flight of four F-86 aircraft deep within enemy territory when a flight of twelve enemy MIG aircraft was sighted at an altitude of thirty-five thousand feet. Colonel Johnson immediately initiated a forceful attack and concentrated on destroying one of the enemy aircraft. Closing on the single MIG, Colonel Johnson held his fire until he was within twelve hundred feet, at which time he scored numerous hits on the wing and fuselage of the enemy aircraft. To assure that he did not lose his tactical advantage, and with full knowledge of the potential danger from the other MIGS in the enemy flight, Colonel Johnson continued on his attack. With unswerving singleness of purpose, Colonel Johnson began firing from a range of six hundred feet, continuing his devastating barrage until he was only fifty feet form the enemy aircraft, at which time it began to burn and disintegrate. Only then did Colonel Johnson turn to face the fire of the other MIGs. While expertly maneuvering to escape the attacking enemy aircraft, Colonel Johnson experienced a loss of engine power which later proved to be the result of damage caused by debris from the destroyed enemy aircraft. In spite of the handicap of a disabled aircraft, he valiantly turned to attack the enemy MIGs, and by superb airmanship and aggressiveness, outmaneuvered them until they withdrew from the area. Colonel Johnson then brought his disabled aircraft back to base.
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Aviator (Command)

 Unit Assignments
Aviation Cadet Flight School43rd Fighter Squadron  - American Hornets404th Fighter-Bomber Group48th Fighter-Bomber Group
US Air ForceNellis Air Force Base4th Fighter-Interceptor WingHeadquarters Command (HQ USAF)
55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing43rd Bombardment Wing, Heavy43rd Bombardment Wing, Medium19th Air Division
Tactical Air Command (TAC)
  1939-1940, AAF MOS 770, Aviation Cadet Flight School
  1940-1943, AAF MOS 1055, 43rd Fighter Squadron - American Hornets
  1943-1944, 404th Fighter-Bomber Group
  1944-1945, AAF MOS 1065, 48th Fighter-Bomber Group
  1945-1951, Ellington Air Force Base
  1951-1952, Nellis Air Force Base
  1952-1953, AAF MOS 1065, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing
  1953-1956, Headquarters Command (HQ USAF)
  1956-1959, 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
  1959-1960, 3958th Operations Evaluation & Training Squadron (3958th OE&T), 43rd Bombardment Wing, Heavy
  1960-1961, 43rd Bombardment Wing, Medium
  1961-1961, 19th Air Division
  1961-1963, Tactical Air Command (TAC)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Air Offensive, Europe Campaign (1942-44)
  1952-1953 Korean War/Third Korean Winter (1952-53)2
 Colleges Attended 
University of Arizona
  1934-1938, University of Arizona
 My Aircraft/Missiles
P-36 Hawk  P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk  P-39 Airacobra  P-47 Thunderbolt (Jug)  
P-51/F-51 Mustang  F-86 Sabre  B-58 Hustler  
  1940-1941, P-36 Hawk
  1941-1943, P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk
  1943-1943, P-39 Airacobra
  1943-1945, P-47 Thunderbolt (Jug)
  1945-1945, P-51/F-51 Mustang
  1950-1954, F-86 Sabre1
  1959-1961, B-58 Hustler
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