Editor’s note: World War II officially ended Sept. 2, 1945, when the Japanese signed surrender terms. We’re honoring the war’s area veterans over the next several months with these brief profiles.
Jesse T. Johnson
Date of birth: Oct. 19, 1921
Dates of service: Aug. 11, 1942 to Oct. 21, 1945
Lives in: Clovis
Theater and location of service: Europe: Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes, Rhineland
Branch: Army Air Corps
Rank: Tech sergeant
Unit and specialty: 434th Troop carrier group, 71st squadron, flight engineer, crew chief
In his words: Some of the men blushed and stammered, trying to compose themselves as they shook his hand, but when Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower came to Johnson and asked him, “how’s the chow,” Johnson mischievously replied “not worth a damn.”
Johnson’s response evoked laughter, including from Eisenhower.
The general was visiting England to prepare the troops for the invasion of Normandy, telling them that he anticipated a loss of half the planes but was ready with replacements.
Pulling gliders into Normandy on D-Day, Johnson proudly said only one of their planes was lost.
Logging approximately 1,000 flight hours as a crew chief, Johnson was responsible for making sure the plane was flight-worthy at all times and that problems were resolved quickly and thoroughly. He recalls heavy gunfire as a frequent occurrence. As a transport crew, their days in Europe were filled with supply runs, delivering men to the battlefield and picking up the wounded.
World War II profiles are compiled by CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson. Contact her at 763-6991 or by e-mail: