Johnson, William (Interview transcript and video), 2021


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Johnson, William (Interview transcript and video), 2021


Smither, James (Interviewer)
WKTV (Wyoming, Mich.)


William Johnson was born in Union, Mississippi, on September 14th, 1936. He enlisted in the Army in 1955. He was processed in Fort Wayne, Michigan, issued his equipment in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and attended basic training in Fort Carson, Colorado. He then went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for advanced training. Johnson was originally to join the 18th Engineer Brigade, but later decided to go to Fort Campbell, Kentucky for airborne training and joined the 11th Airborne Division. After that, his unit was deployed to Munich, Germany. Due to fights between units, the 11th Airborne Division was deactivated and Johnson joined the 24th Regiment, 8th Infantry Division. He stayed in Germany until December 1958 before going to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he reenlisted and was assigned to the 504th Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. While at Fort Bragg, his unit went to Mississippi to respond to the conflict that occurred when James Meredith was not allowed to enroll in the University of Mississippi in 1962. Later that year, his unit was flown to Eglin Airforce Base in Florida to respond to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Johnson left Fort Bragg in 1963, after which he was assigned to go to Mainz and Bad Kreuznach, Germany as a part of the 8th Infantry Division, 509th Airborne Infantry Brigade. He stayed in Germany until 1966, then went to Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was the operation sergeant at the airborne training school. In 1967, he was flown to Clark Air Force base in the Philippines before arriving in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. He then went to Phan Rang where he joined the 101st Airborne Division, 2nd Batallion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. Later, he went to Tam Ky, then Chu Lai where he was assigned to be an S-2 sergeant. After that, he went back to Phan Rang and then to Song Be. When the Tet Offensive began, his unit left for Da Nang. From there, they went towards A Shau Valley and set up Firebase Bastogne. Then, they went to Veghel and another firebase, where they were fired at, and Johnson got injured in the cheek. In 1968, Johnson flew back home where he was assigned to the 505th Infantry Regiment. In 1969, he was assigned to the SILK PURSE Control Group in England and returned home in 1972 to work with the Michigan National Guard Advisory group until he retired in 1976.




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Grand Valley State University Libraries, Special Collections & University Archives, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI, 49401.


Veterans History Project (U.S.)






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Johnson, William, “Johnson, William (Interview transcript and video), 2021,” Digital Collections, accessed April 14, 2024,
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