Alan Howard Johnson
Sketch by Cliff Wheeler
Specialist 5th Class, Combat Aviation Crew Chief
281st Assault Helicopter Company
10th CAB, 17th CAG, 1st AVN BDE
From South Ozone Park, New York
Born May 2nd, 1948
Tour of duty began on January 14th, 1969
Killed in action on February 6th, 1970
in Binh Dinh Province, South Vietnam
when his Helicopter was shot down.
Vietnam Wall Panel 14W, Line 107
SP5 Alan Howard Johnson was a 21
year old single soldier from South Ozone Park,
New York. His mother, Mrs. Loretta Johnson and his father, Mr.
Linwood Johnson still reside in the area. Alan was born in Ozone
Park and grew up in the area. In his early years he had a wide
circle of friends and was known by his family and friends as a caring
individual who was respected by all.
Alan attended New York public schools and graduated from Franklin K. Lane High School. He was a good student excelling in both basketball and football. After school he could normally be found at home playing pinochle with his friends. As soon as he was old enough he purchased a car which he took great care of and allowed no one else to drive it.
Following high school Alan found the New York job market to be tight and he gave up his job as a truck driver and joined the US Army so that he could assist his family financially. By joining the army he felt that he could help support his family and provide a better life for his siblings.
Alan completed basic training as an infantry rifleman and was sent to Vietnam, arriving in September of 1968. He was assigned to the 198th Infantry Brigade where he remained until January of 1969. During combat operations with the 198th he earned the coveted Combat Infantryman's Badge. In January of 1969 he was transferred to the 281st Assault Helicopter Company for duty as a combat aviation door gunner. From January until May of 1969 Alan applied himself to the task of becoming a helicopter crew chief and on May 6, 1969 he was awarded the official designation of Crew Chief. Alan progressed within the 281st and on 21 November of 1969 was promoted to the rank of Specialist Fifth Class (E-5). In the 281st he was awarded the silver wings of a Combat Aviation Crew Member along with several other awards. However, Alan's most important achievement was the high level of respect that his peers and superiors had for him as an individual and for the outstanding manner that he performed his duties as a combat aviation crew member. Today, Alan Howard Johnson is remembered for being one of the highest skilled and respected combat aviation crew chiefs that served in the unit.
On February 6, 1970 Alan was killed while flying a combat aviation mission in UH-1H 68-1625 which was lost as a result of hostile action at Binh Dinh, South Vietnam. Also lost in the crash were SP5 Frank M. Kaiser, who Allan was training to be a crew chief, and Warrant Officer Tarry T. O'Reilly, pilot. Warrant Officer Ron Lesonik, the Air Craft Commander was severally injured in the crash but survived. Alan, Frank and Tarry shall not be forgotten.
From Mike Fellenz [now deceased]:
When I arrived at the 281st, I was assigned to the 2nd Platoon as a Door Gunner on #455 with Alan Johnson as my CE. Alan was one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He was second to none when it came to his job and doing it well. He taught me everything I know about being a Gunner and CE. Alan took me under his wing and made sure I knew everything necessary to do my job while supporting Project Delta. But being my mentor and my friend is not everything Alan gave me, you see, Alan Johnson took my place on the last mission he flew. And that is something I think about everyday of my life.
From Bob Mitchell [now deceased]:
Hardly a day goes by now that I don't think about Alan Johnson. Alan crewed 455, a great aircraft, that he kept in immaculate shape. We flew together quite a bit and became friends despite our rank difference. Alan was an outstanding person that was loved by all. He was an excellent Door Gunner and Crew Chief that could always be counted upon to do whatever it took to get the mission done.
Ron Lesonik and I were the Aircraft Commanders on an operation that required two aircraft and crews being loaned to another company north of Nha Trang. We had been there a couple of days flying missions in the area around Tuy Hoa and the area north of Qui Nhon when Lesonik's aircraft was shot down by .51 Cal automatic weapon fire. Everyone on board was lost except Lesonik and he was injured very badly.
The deaths of Alan Johnson and Frank Kaiser hit everyone in the unit pretty hard. It was a great loss for all of us.
From Jeffrey Murray [firstname.lastname@example.org]:
In my days with the Bandit Platoon I probably remember flying with Alan more than any other crewmember. I'm not sure why I remember him so well, and it would be easy to say it was due to his professionalism and attention to detail. However, it is probably because on January 21, 1969 Alan was crewing UH-1H 17360 when we got the call to rescue a RECONDO team in contact. Approaching the LZ the aircraft was struck with a full burst of automatic rifle fire, and two rounds hit the recovery sergeant, SSG Marvin Gies. SP4 Johnson immediately went to his aid, applying more first aid than I knew in an attempt to save his life, but it was in vain, and SSG Gies died shortly after we got him to the Nha Trang hospital. He was as calm and soldierly as I have ever seen someone react under such circumstances. I subsequently left the Bandits to go to Wolf Pack; but of all the crewmembers from my old platoon the one I kept in the closest contact with was Alan. We always seemed to have something to say to each other whenever we passed on the flight line or in the field during a Delta deployment. A few of us got medals for that mission, I got mine 6 months after I DEROS'ed, so I don't know if Alan ever got his. He deserved it. I miss him and those like him. The world is a lesser place without him and the 281st was a better organization because of him.
-Jeff Murray, Wolf Pack 33, 1968-69
SP5 Alan Johnson's personal information and pictures
were obtained by
Lawrence Harris, who is in touch with his parents.
Click here to contact Lawrence Harris
Long Island National Cemetery, New York.
A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN
ONCE AN INTRUDER ... ALWAYS AN INTRUDER