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Col. Gerald R. Johnson
5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 9th Fighter Squadron

P-38 Lighting Pilot and Ace
Background
Gerald Richard Johnson was born on June 23, 1920 as one of five children born to parents Harold Victor Johnson, Sr. and Hazel Irene Johnson. He was a twin to Harold Victor Johnson, Jr. born on the same day in Kenmore near Akron, Ohio. Nicknamed "Jerry". In 1936 the family moved to Eugene, Oregon and graduated from Eugene High School Class of 1938. In the summer of 1940 attended a Department of Agriculture School.

Wartime History
After the United States entered World War II, Johnson enlisted in the U. S. Army as an aviation cadet at Luke Field and earned his pilot wings during late 1941 and commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-428829.

Assigned to the 11h Air Force, 54th Fighter Group flying the P-39 Airacobra and P-40 Warhawk and claimed two victories flying the P-38 Lightning. Afterwards, transfered to the 5th Air Force in the South-West Pacific Area (SWPA), 49th Fighter Group (49th FG), 9th Fighter Squadron (9th FS).

On October 13, 1943 took off from Kiriwina Airfield on a mission to escort B-24 Liberators over Rabaul. Inbound to the target, the weather was approaching frontal region with precipitation and clouds and lost three aircraft. The rest of the flight diverted to land at Dobodura.

On November 15, 1943 Johnson accidentally shot down Boomerang A46-136, pilot survived. Later, an Australian flag indicating this Boomerang was painted on Johnson's P-38 Lightning. At this time, Johnson was the 4th highest scoring ace.

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Aircraft assigned to Johnson
P-38F "Sooner" 42-12655  assigned to Johnson on November 5, 1943 took off piloted by 2nd Lt. George C. Haniotis MIA Rabaul

Aerial Victory Claims
Johnson was officially credited by the USAAF with twenty-two aerial victories. His first victory claim was on July 26, 1943. His last victory claim was April 2, 1945.

Victory Date Location Aircraft Notes on claim
  07/23/43 Salamaua Mike Claimed as probable for a "Mike" [sic Ki-61 Tony].
1 07/26/43 Markham Valley Oscar First aerial victory claim for a "Mike" [sic Ki-61 Tony].
2 07/26/43 Markham Valley Tony Second aerial victory.
3 09/02/43 Cape Gloucester TE Fighter Third aerial victory claim for "TE Fighter" [Twin engine fighter].
  09/02/43 Cape Gloucester TE Fighter Claimed as damaged "TE Fighter" [Twin engine fighter].
4 10/15/43 Oro Bay Val Fourth aerial victory claim.
5 10/15/43 Oro Bay Val Fifth aerial victory claim, became an "ace".
6 10/15/43 Oro Bay Oscar Sixth aerial victory claim.
  10/15/43 Oro Bay Val Claimed as probable.
7 10/23/43 Rapopo Zeke Seventh aerial victory claim.
8 11/02/43 Simpson Harbor Zeke Eighth aerial victory claim.
9 11/02/43 Simpson Harbor Zeke Ninth aerial victory claim.
  11/15/43 Finschafen   Accidentally shot down of Royal Australian Air Force Boomerang A46-136
10 12/10/43 Gusap Tony Tenth aerial victory claim. Flying P-47D Thunderbolt.
11 01/18/44 Wewak Zeke Eleventh aerial victory claim "Zeke" [sic Ki-43 Oscar]. Flying P-47D Thunderbolt.
12 10/14/44 Balikpapan Oscar Twelfth aerial victory claim.
13 10/14/44 Balikpapan Tojo Thirteenth aerial victory claim.
14 10/27/44 Tacloban Oscar Fourteenth aerial victory claim.
15 10/27/44 Carigara Bay Val Fifteenth aerial victory claim.
16 11/11/44 Ormoc Bay Zeke Sixteenth aerial victory claim.
17 11/11/44 Ormoc Bay Zeke Seventeenth aerial victory claim.
18 12/07/44 Cebu Island Oscar Eighteenth aerial victory claim.
19 12/07/44 Cebu Island Oscar Nineteenth aerial victory claim.
20 12/07/44 Cebu Island Oscar Twentieth aerial victory claim.
21 12/07/44 Ormoc Bay Helen Twenty-first aerial victory claim.
22 04/02/45 Hong Kong Tojo Twenty-second aerial victory claim.

Missing On Administrative Flight
On October 7, 1945 took off from Ie Shima Airfield piloting B-25H Mitchell 43-4149 on an administrative flight with four passengers aboard bound for Atsugi Airfield. This aircraft departed without the upper bomb bay fuel tanks being filled because it did not have a fuel transfer pump. For unknown reasons this B-25 had only four parachutes aboard yet there was a total of six individuals aboard (two crew and four passengers). Due to poor weather including turbulence and rain, this aircraft flew on instruments until approximately 5:30pm when the coast of Honshū was spotted but had difficulty orienting himself for the landing approach. When this aircraft failed to arrive it was officially listed as missing. Since he went missing after hostilities ended, Johnson did not earn the Purple Heart, posthumously.

Awards
Johnson earned the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) with Oak Leaf Cluster, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters, Soldier's Medal, Air Medal with eleven Oak Leaf Clusters.

Memorials
Johnson was officially declared dead on October 7, 1945 the day he was lost. He is memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing, court 7.

After his loss, Irumagawa Airfield was renamed Johnson Airfield in his honor and later Johnson Air Base then Johnson Air Force Base (Johnson AFB).

References
Pilot Roster, 9th Fighter Squadron 1942-1943 via Edward Rogers
Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Johnson, Gerald R. page 98 (PDF page 105)
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Gerald R. Johnson
FindAGrave - Col Gerald Richard Johnson (photo, courts of the missing photo)
The Eugene Register-Guard "Gerald Johnson Listed Missing Since October 7" October 14, 1945
Stars & Bars (1995) page 35-36 (49th FG, Johnson) 362-363 (Johnson, Gerald Richard.)
Jungle Ace: Col. Gerald R. Johnson, the USAAF's Top Fighter Leader of the Pacific War (2001)

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