Roy L. Johnson

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Roy Lee Johnson
ADM Roy Johnson.jpg
Adm. Roy Lee Johnson, c. 1965
Born (1906-03-18)March 18, 1906
Eunice, Louisiana
Died March 20, 1999(1999-03-20) (aged 93)
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1929–1967
Rank Admiral
Commands held
Other work

Roy Lee Johnson (March 18, 1906 – March 20, 1999) served as Commander-in-Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, from 1965–1967. In his previous post as Commander, United States Seventh Fleet, he gave the orders to the Maddox (DD-731) and Turner Joy (DD-951) to return fire, in what became known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Admiral Johnson was the first captain of the Forrestal (CVA-59) first of the new supercarriers, commissioned in 1955.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Eunice, Louisiana to John Edward Johnson and the former Hetty Mae Long, Admiral Johnson was the eldest of 12 children.

He was appointed to the United States Naval Academy as a Midshipman on June 15, 1925. At Annapolis he played varsity baseball and was on the staff of academy yearbook, the Lucky Bag. He graduated from the Naval Academy on June 6, 1929 and married the former Margaret Louise Gross (November 26, 1910 – July 4, 1998), on the same day.

His first assignment as a junior officer was aboard the battleship Tennessee (BB-43). In May 1930, he was transferred to the battleship West Virginia (BB-48) for duty on the Staff of Commander Battleship Divisions, Battle Fleet.

During 1930, he underwent preliminary flight training at the Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego. On January 28, 1931 he began flight training at the naval flight school at Naval Air Station Pensacola, known as the "Cradle of US Naval Aviation". One year later he was designated a Naval Aviator.

In June 1940 he was ordered to Patrol Squadron Twelve and one year later on March 28, 1941 he was assigned to the Bureau of Aeronautics Navy Department in Washington, D.C.

World War II[edit]

He remained with the bureau through the early portion of World War II and in May 1943 he was transferred to Fleet Air Command, Naval Air Station Quonset Point as Commander Carrier Air Group Two. In early 1944, the Air Group joined the aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-12).

Johnson later became the Executive Officer of that ship, which would later become known as the "Grey Ghost". As Air Group Commander ("CAG"), he directed and led attacks against Japanese forces at Palau, Woleai, Wake Island and Truk, striking against enemy aircraft, airfields, shipping and shore installations. For his service as Air Group Commander he was awarded the Air Medal. Later, he received the Bronze Star and a second Legion of Merit Medal, with Combat "V" for his service in action which included campaigns against Japanese forces in the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He also wore a Presidential Unit Citation, which was awarded to Hornet for her part in these campaigns.


On October 3, 1945 he was assigned to the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff where he served until July 1947, when he became the Aviation Operations Officer on the Staff of Commander Second Fleet in Norfolk, Virginia.

In January 1950, he was assigned as Training Officer on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Air Reserve Training at Naval Air Station Glenview, Illinois.

Korean War[edit]

On November 15, 1951, during the Korean War, Johnson became the Commanding Officer of the escort carrier Badoeng Strait (CVE-116); affectionately known by her crew as the "Bing Ding". She was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation. He was the "CO" until July 1952.

Post-Korean War, through mid-1950s[edit]

In July 1952, he was assigned to the National War College in Washington D.C. for a year's course in modern warfare techniques and strategies.

For two years after completing the War College program, he served as the head of the Air Weapons System Analysis Staff and in the office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, (Air). In May 1955 he reported to Norfolk, Virginia as the Prospective Commanding Officer, (PCO) of the Navy's first "supercarrier", under construction.

Therefore, Johnson became the first Commanding Officer of the 60,000-ton attack aircraft carrier Forrestal (CVA-59) on her commissioning day, October 1, 1955, at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia.

Flag assignments[edit]

Three months later, on January 1, 1956, he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral. In June of that year, Admiral Johnson was named director of the Long Range Objectives Group, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

In December 1958, he assumed command of Carrier Division Four and a year later, on January 25, 1960, he was named Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Plans and Policy. On December 15, 1961, he was promoted to Vice Admiral and a month later became Deputy Director of Joint Strategic Target Planning, headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Nebraska. On July 30, 1963, he assumed the duties of Deputy Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Admiral Johnson served as Commander United States Seventh Fleet for eleven months (June 15, 1964 – March 1, 1965). For this service he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.

Admiral Johnson then served as the Commander in Chief US Pacific Fleet for the period March 30, 1965 – November 30, 1967.

Awards and honors[edit]

In addition to the above named medals, Admiral Johnson was also awarded the American Defense Medal with Fleet Clasp, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal with two stars, and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.

Post-Navy career[edit]

Admiral Johnson retired from the United States Navy, in 1967 to Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was active in local civic affairs, as chairman of the board of Virginia Beach General Hospital and chairman of numerous Naval organizations, including the US Naval Academy Alumni Association and the Golden Eagles.

He and Mrs. Johnson had two children. Their son, Roy L. Johnson, Jr., b. February 25, 1939 predeceased them in 1995. Their daughter, Jo-Anne L. Coe, (Jo-Anne Lee Johnson, b. July 19, 1933) d. September 27, 2002, served as the first woman Secretary of the United States Senate and as Chief of Staff to Senator Bob Dole.

Admiral Roy L. Johnson, USN (Ret), died on Navy Day, March 20, 1999, two days after his 93rd birthday.[1]


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Thomas H. Moorer
Commander in Chief of the United States Pacific Fleet
Succeeded by
John J. Hyland