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JOHNSON JESSE HENRY JOHNSON Jesse Henry Johnson, Colonel, USAF, Retired, died peacefully at Henrico Doctors' Hospital on November 19, 2013, from complications following a stroke. Born on October 21, 1924, in Selma, NC, Col. Johnson was the eldest son of Jesse Henry Johnson, Sr., and Mary Garrison Johnson. His brothers, Leonard H. Johnson and William E. Johnson, predeceased him. Col. Johnson attended Western Maryland College on a football scholarship, which eventually earned him an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy where he continued his education and football career. Upon graduating from West Point in 1945 with a B.S. in Electrical and Aeronautical Engineering, he entered the Army Air Corps, predecessor to the U.S. Air Force, where he spent the next 30 years. Col. Johnson's early career was spent flying both fighter and support aircraft. During World War II, his squadron was one of the first to fly in the Berlin Airlift, one of the greatest logistical feats in modern history. Col. Johnson then served as Air Attaché in London, Stockholm and Paris where he represented the U.S. government, negotiating agreements, exchanging technology, and collecting foreign intelligence. While in London, he made the first report of the imminent launch of Sputnik I. He later served in a number of operational and technical intelligence positions in the Pentagon and in Systems Command during the Russian Cold War. During his military career, Col. Johnson earned an M.S. in Management and Government from The George Washington University and was a PhD candidate in Management and Government for both Harvard University and The George Washington University. Col. Johnson was awarded the Legion of Merit upon his retirement from the U.S. Air Force in 1975 as Colonel and Command Pilot. He continued his involvement in the technical and intelligence community until 2005, serving as liaison and consultant to military and other federal clients. Col. Johnson is survived by his beloved wife of 68 years, Eunice Elaine Williams Johnson, of Richmond, VA, and his six children and their spouses: Jo Ann Johnson Lewis and Russell Lewis of Fredericksburg, VA; Jess Alexander Johnson and Drema Johnson of Arlington, VA, Jay Alan Johnson and Susan Johnson of Richmond, VA; Jan Adrian Johnson Kost and Richard Kost of Richmond, VA; Jill Adair Johnson-Martin and Eric Martin of Chesapeake, VA; and John Andrew Johnson and Beverly Goldblatt of Annandale, VA. He also leaves 13 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Relatives and friends may call at Jefferson Funeral Chapel, 5755 Castlewellan Drive, Alexandria, VA on Sunday, November 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Johnson's honor may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675, or online at www.woundedwarriorproject.org. Family services with full military honors will be held in due course at Arlington National Cemetery.
Published in The Washington Post on Nov. 22, 2013