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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Leslie Ernest Johnson Jr., Major, USAF (Retired)February 22, 1930 – February 14, 2015
Leslie Ernest Johnson, 84, of Branson West, Missouri (formerly of Bruceton), died Friday, February 14, 2015 at Roaring Rivers Health and Rehab in Cassville, Missouri. Funeral services were held Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at Bruceton First United Methodist Church with Bro. Steve Whitworth officiating. Burial followed at Prospect Cemetery.
Mr. Johnson was born on February 22, 1930 in Huntingdon to the late Leslie E. Johnson, Sr. and Marguerite Ann Clark Johnson. He was a graduate of Hollow Rock Bruceton Central High School 1948 and of Memphis State in 1952 with a B.S. degree.
He entered the Air Force and earned Major Air Commander rank while serving over 20 years. He was a command pilot and received three Distinguished Flying Crosses, Meritorious Service Medal, an Air Medal with five-oak-leaf cluster, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with palm.
He was a 32-degree Mason and Member of the Order of the Eastern Star.
Besides his parents he was also preceded in death by two sisters.
He is survived by: wife Bobbye Jean Mathis Johnson of Branson West, Missouri; two sons Leslie Ernest (Mary) Johnson III of Oklahoma; and K.C. Johnson of Virginia; two grandchildren; and a sister-in-law, Christine Wright of Bruceton.
~ REMEMBRANCES ~
I am the 1st son of Leslie E. Johnson Jr, Major, Retired USAF. I believe Dad flew PEDRO 39 and PEDRO 91 at Binh Thuy AB, Mekong Delta, 1967-1968. He flew many missions. He saved many lives just as all the helo crews did.
I have his personal log book. Dad is in a few pictures on the Huskie/Pedro websites somewhere.
Dad retired to Branson West, Missouri and built a home with my mom, on the side of a massive mountain on Table Rock Lake to over-look the world from his deck. The view is magnificent. When you step out on the deck, it’s like you’re flying. They loved it.
Major Leslie E. Johnson Jr., died on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2015 at 1915 hrs. He was almost 85. He was buried back in his home town of Bruceton, Tennessee on 25 February 2015.
Three Distinguished Flying Crosses and MSM among all the others.
Bobbey Johnson (wife), KC Johnson (2nd son), and myself (1st son), miss him badly.
As dad would say raising his glass toasting,…… “CHEERS “
ThanksLeslie Johnson III“Just Cause” and “Desert Shield/Storm”
PEDRO LOG BOOKMAJOR LESLIE E. JOHNSON JR.BINH THUY AB, VIETNAM 1967-68~Courtesy of his Maj. Johnson’s Son, Leslie Johnson III~
38-10-68/001 Battle damage rpt 62-4560 – 16 Feb 6538-10-68 /002 change 5 to 3rd GPProgramming Plan 1
Nov.29 Arrived in Vietnam at Binh Thuy AB RVN 78 mi SW of Saigon – Have to sleep 3 to a room and CO stays up all nite with lights on-
Dec.2 First ride in HH43F. Good grief, is it heavy. No reserve power to speak of- lead sled-
Dec.3 Had second ride today- am now Officially checked out as rescue pilot. I go on alert tomorrow-
Dec.11 First night flight – had 3 tracers fired at us while turning base leg – didn’t go out quite as far on next pattern-
Dec.12 First time to do something- took a water pump out to a Thailand freighter – it was really low in the water- it was riding 12 feet lower than it was supposed to – 32 souls on board- it was so old I don’t see how it would float anyway-1925 built- 12’-15’ waves- I was glad that one was over- 35 miles out to sea-
Dec.13 first ACR- picked up F-4C pilot that ejected- Sea Wolf flew fire suppression – man they fired all kinds of stuff – nice to see someone there to help a little – pilot was ok except for hurt leg – He was really thankful to be picked up – took light ground fire on take-off –
Next a C-7A crashed off the end of 06 – we picked up 5 crew members – all hurt – none serious – This has been a long day but it’s better than just sitting –
Dec.14 LBR – F-100 with fuel leak – he landed without incident – He sure took his time in Getting out of the acft. with gallons of fuel running out of the fuselage –
Dec.22 Good Grief – ALR flew out to an island about 55 miles off the coast to check on distress signals – found it & landed – PJ & mechanic searched area – I got out of acft. with rifle in hand & charged into the jungle – after going about 50’ into the brush I stopped & said what in the hell am I doing – So I just walked around a little in the jungle – was I scared? YOU BET.
Jan.1 2 LBR’s today AIE’s – both had hydraulic failure but both got down without incident – I’ll swear they never call an emerg. until they are about to land & we never get up in time –
4 Jan. Med. Evac. 2 saves – both navy PBR troops – hurt by mortar when they were ambushed. One had a bad leg wound but the other had a bad head wound – you could see his brain through a 2” hole – The PJ had to hold his mouth open with his thumb so the fellow wouldn’t drown on his own blood & vomit – his eyes were swollen shut & whole face was purple – worse one picked up as yet – PJ did a fine job –
Jan.5 – LBR – AIE fuel leak & vibrating prop – landed without incident – They never call an emergency til they are on final approach.
Jan.8 – LBR AIESmoke in cockpit – nothing else – had a few bullet holes in wing –
Jan.14 – LBR F-100 battle damage – fuel leaking all over the place – he got down ok but he never shut the engine down – I figure he just tried to look as if it was nothing but he moved when we told him of the fuel all under him –
Jan.17 – another nite local flight – we got shot at again – reported it to security –
Jan. 18 – C7A (caribou) crashed just off the end of the runway – 2nd one in a month – no one hurt again – Sure made a mess of a nice rice paddy –
26 Jan. – LBR AIE vibrating prop – landed without incident – also an ACR F-4C pilot hit & ejected along river – pilot got out & into dinghy, co-pilot drowned – we never found him – he may have been out when he hit the water –
30 Jan. – Good Grief – my first mortar attack – man I don’t like these at all – none came very close but to look at the damage really ruins your whole day –
2 Feb. – flew nite Patrol around base – I don’t like this at all – lights on, 300’ up at 60 kts – VC could even hit us –Cantho field hit by mortar – started fire & they ask us to come over to help put it out – ridiculous but we tried –
3 Feb. – By the grace we didn’t get killed tonite – Flew patrol around base – Flew up a river & made a right turn up a canal – as soon as I rolled level – the entire sky in front of me lit up with more tracers than I could count. I could think of nothing except squeeze down further into my seat then I quickly turned right again – I figure 3 to 5 automatic weapons fired at least 100 rounds at us in 4 secs – Returned to base & landed & found 4 bullet holes 3 feet in back of me & 3 holes in one rotor blade – only reason they didn’t get us was that they lead us 10 ft. too much – Well if this wasn’t enough they just got thru mortaring us again – closet one was 75 feet-Please Lord let this day end soon –
*AT THIS TIME THE LOG GETS REAL PERSONAL AND THE MORTAR ATTACKS ARE RELENTLESS. Leaving out personal entries on purpose.
MORTAR ATTACKS; 4 FEB, 5 FEB, 7 FEB – (Lt. Col. killed in room under 2 mattresses-PSP doesn’t stop shrapnel either), 8 FEB,12 FEB, 13 FEB- (0250-0350-2320 HRS), 14 FEB
15 Feb – ACR – F-100 pilot – OK
MORTAR ATTACKS; 16 FEB, 17 FEB (some people are getting trigger happy), 18 FEB (our bombs & rockets do no good – A Viet Colonel will not send troops out to get Charlie),
22 Feb. – my birthday – a little sleep – 3 martinis & 4 manhattans – let the little SOBs come – Happy Birthday
MORTAR ATTACKS; 23 FEB (–hit ammo dump it blew and blew from 2 am to 0830 – what a mess –), 25 FEB(GOT OFFICER QTRS ZERO’D IN – SLEEP IN BUNKERS- one mortar hit 10’ in front of bunker door)
1 Mar. – ACR – picked up 3 navy guys off a PBR on river – one wounded bad & other two had leg wounds –
2 Mar. – picked up AVRN troop off river – he had a bad head wound but was conscious & knew what was going on – landed in soccer field in Can Tho where an ambulance took him to a hospital-
4 Mar. – 120 rds. of mortars – both acft. are out but one should be in tomorrow –
7 Mar. – Took 2 Vietnamese & an OSI agent on a flight to spot a VC supply point – man they don’t pay me to do this kind of work – the day wasn’t boring anyway –
9 Mar. – PBR pick up north of Vinh Long – 2 wounded – 2130 hrs – made anther PBR pickup down river – bad head wound – ground fire but sea wolf kept it down –
12 Mar. – PBR pick up- heavy ground fire – sea wolves took several hits – we nearly bought the farm – PBR would not disconnect the stokes – when they finally did it caught under the boat & pulled copter 30degs bank 3 times – cable broke thank God or we would have hit the water – never got the wounded- boat took him to Cantho ambulance got him took him to soccer filed- we picked him up & took him to Dang Tran (sp?) 40 miles away – bullet wound in back next to spine –
14 Mar. – Mortars – 85 rounds guess – room next to mine direct hit –
MORTAR ATTACK; 17 Mar. He never seems to get tired – but he isn’t getting any better a shot – we have been lucky –
19 Mar.- PBR pick up – 2 wounded – no problem on pick up
MORTAR ATTACK; 22 Mar. – 2 Vietnamese killed – that’s 8 and 3 Americans
MORTAR ATTACK; 25 Mar. – 2 Vietnamese killed – can hear the shrapnel hitting the buildings & roofs-
28 Mar. – called out on a downed helicopter – flew 25 miles south of Binh Thuy – had two Huey gunships for cover at 4 AM – found burned out helicopter & went down to check for survivors – no beepin, no stoke litter – when we got to 300’ all hell broke loose – VC were all over the place – it was a trap & we just barely got out in time – from now on, no radio, no rescue-
31 Mar.- O-1 crash but pilot wasn’t hurt – took him to Dong Tam –
4 Apr. – been slow but lately but made a navy pick up about 45 miles from here – 2 personnel wounded, both ok-
MORTAR ATTACK; 9 Apr. 80 rounds – no one hurt but scratch 1 A1E –
MORTAR ATTACK; 13 Apr. Laundry hit- several severely wounded –
18 Apr.- PBR pick up 10 miles downriver – boat sunk and two badly wounded –
24 Apr. – Business has really slowed down – only an LBR today –
30 Apr. – evacuated 4 Vietnamese from outpost – ol’ Charlie was within 1000’ but did not shoot – I was glad for some reason –
3 May – picked up navy man off LST about 60 miles away – he was hit internally but seemed to be in good shape –
MORTAR ATTACK; 6 May – not bad – only 20-25 rounds – maybe Charlie is running out of ammo –
12 May – Picked up a navy guy LST
18 May – Picked up 4 Army personnel off downed helicopter – one was a Full Colonel Vietnamese type –
MORTAR ATTACK; 21 May – ol’charlie hit us with about 60-70 rounds of 75 mm recoilless- they nearly got the ammo dump –
22 May – 6 Months – only 6 years to go –
LOG ENDS ABURPTLY.
Dad made no further entries at Binh Thuy AB. I believe he had had his fill and concentrated on his duties, staying focused on the missions, and not reliving them in a log book. Dad was exhausted from missions and no sleep. (many Blues too) I omitted entries of a personal nature as he was talking to mom and us kids. Not to mention his opinion of Charlie……..Dad came home.
This data was recorded by me, Leslie E. Johnson III, 1st son of Major Leslie E. Johnson Jr., fromMajor Johnson’s personal Pedro Log Book from Binh Thuy AB, Vietnam, 1967-1968. I have it in my possession. 19 March 2015.
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