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Albert Kay Johnson, Major RetiredApril 19, 1933 ~ May 10, 2017 (age 84)
Albert Kay Johnson "A. K." passed away on Wednesday, May 10, 2017, Centerville, Utah. He was born April 19, 1933, in Garden Grove, California to Neils Albert Johnson, Jr. and Sarah Lucille Poppleton Johnson. The Johnsons were from Utah, but there was work in California during the Depression when their first child was born. A. K. had two younger sisters, Emma Lou (deceased) and Claudia. He graduated from South Cache High School, Hyrum, Utah, and attended Utah State University.
In 1953 A. K. joined the Air Force. He was born to fly. As a young boy, he always wore an aviator cap everywhere he went. Basic Training was at Lackland AFB, San Antonio, TX. He passed the test to become a cadet and had six months of instruction in Austin, TX. Back to Lackland AFB for Cadet Basic Training. Flight Training was at Graham AFB, Marianna, Florida. He trained in PA-18 and T-6. Advanced Training was at Reese AFB, Lubbock, TX where he trained in the T-28 and B-25. During his training, he and his best friend, Mo Jensen, learned of a student pilot in a single engine plane who lost the engine and crashed. As a result, they both decided they would fly the planes that had the most engines, that meant cargo planes.
When A. K. finished his training and emerged as a young lieutenant, there were 26 Lieutenant Johnsons in his squadron. At that point he became Lieutenant A.K. He liked it and it stuck. His first duty station was Donaldson AFB, Greenville, SC where he flew a C-124. His next three duty stations were Tachakawa, Tokyo, Japan; Hill AFB, Layton, Utah; and Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Kansas. In 1968 he was sent to Clark AFB in the Philippines for jungle training and helicopter training. His next duty station was Korat AFB, Thailand. He flew helicopter rescue into Vietnam from Korat flying the HH43. After his time in Vietnam, he was stationed at McCord AFB, Tacoma, WA where he flew the C-141. He retired from McCord in 1973 as a Major. During his years in the Air Force, he was able to travel to every continent, including the Arctic at the North Pole and Antarctic at the South Pole. He spent 15 years in or supporting Vietnam, flying 14 different aircraft. He was an instructor/flight examiner for 17 of his 20 years in the Air Force. The only single engine military aircraft he was "forced" to fly was a helicopter. He was particularly good at knowing his airplane manual thoroughly. And he was "a natural" at flying helicopters.
A. K. had some memorable experiences in the Air Force. While stationed at Donaldson, he was part of Operation Deep Freeze, the first time C-124s were used to service the South Pole. His first trip down was as a co-pilot. They dropped a D4 caterpillar at the South Pole and were returning to McMurdo AFB. At McMurdo conditions were zero-zero with 60 knots cross wind. The plane had only three engines running, but they made a successful landing, not on the runway but close to it. It was the only aircraft to survive such a landing at McMurdo at that time. Another flight to the South Pole held another extreme adventure. On his return to McMurdo after making the drop of supplies at the Pole, several factors came together that caused them to fly 40 minutes in the air with no fuel. A. K. always felt there was Divine intervention on that flight. Toward the end of his career, he was decorated for his ability by receiving the Air Medal. A local newspaper reported, "Major Johnson distinguished himself by meritorious achievement as a C-124 Globemaster aircraft commander with the 28th Military Airlift Squadron at Hill AFB, Utah. He was cited for his outstanding airmanship and courage on successful and important missions under hazardous conditions."
In 1957 A. K. married Jennae Edwards. They had three children: Scott, Tracy, and Brian, later divorced. In 1985 he married Shauna Timpson. They had one daughter, Laura, later divorced. A. K. was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and spent many years in the Bountiful Temple performing service.
A. K. is survived by his children Scott, Tracy (Bruce), Brian (Haley), and Laura (Juan), seven grandchildren, two great grand children, sister Claudia (Bob), and seven nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his father and mother, sister Emma Lou, and one grandchild.
A viewing will be held at Russon Brothers Mortuary, 295 S. Main, Bountiful, on Friday, May 12th between 6:00-8:00 p.m. Graveside services will be held Saturday, May 13th at 11:00 a.m., Hyrum Cemetery, Hyrum, Utah.