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Colonel (R) Kenneth D. Johnson, USAF

May 9, 1923 July 25, 2021
Colonel (R) Kenneth  D.  Johnson, USAF
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Obituary for Colonel (R) Kenneth D. Johnson, USAF

Colonel Kenneth D. Johnson, 98, died Sunday, June 25, 2021, at St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson. The funeral service will be held at 1:00 pm Thursday, July 29, 2021 at Sebrell Funeral Home. Full military honors will be rendered. A visitation will begin at 12 Noon at the funeral home. Entombment will be at Lakewood Memorial Park.

Colonel Johnson was born on May 4, 1923 in Lena, MS, to the late Roy and Julia Johnson. He was a 19 year old engineering student of Mississippi State College when he joined the Army Enlisted Reserve Corps. He completed pilot training and was commissioned a second lieutenant in February of 1944.

During WWII, he was assigned in Europe as a transport pilot active in transporting supplies and evacuating the wounded from France following D-Day. His last assignment on his 30 month European Tour was a pilot for the late Justice Robert Jackson, Chief Prosecutor of the Nuremberg War Trial.

In 1951, the Colonel was assigned to Korea, where he flew 59 missions as a B-26 pilot during the Korean Conflict. He was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight.

Serving at bases from Japan to South Carolina, the Colonel logged more the 15,000 accident free hours—nearly two years in the air. This is an extremely rare feat that is accomplished by only one percent of all US Air Force aircrew members.

He concluded his more than three decades of service in Oklahoma City, where he served as Senior Air Force Advisor to the Oklahoma National Guard. During his retirement ceremony, the Colonel was awarded the Legion of Merit, which is one of the highest United States military awards.

After serving his country through three decades and three wars, Colonel Johnson returned to MSU in 1978 to complete a grueling nine week summer field session in forestry.

The return to MSU facilitated a valuable, life-long relationship between Colonel Johnson and the College of Forest Resources.

Through the creation of the Colonel KD Johnson Forest near his hometown of Lena, Mississippi, Johnson became the first member of the Bulldog Forest. Further benefitting the college, he has established several other endowments.

In May 2019, he was awarded an honorary doctorate for his incomparable life experiences and commitment to the university community. Affectionately known as “The Colonel” amongst CFR Students he received a standing ovation, first from the graduating CFR Students and then from the entire graduating class for his years of service to our country. When asked about the honor, Colonel Johnson humbly said “It only took me a little over 70 years to get a degree. I am honored to be awarded a degree by the university that I have grown to love. It is an unexpected honor that means so much to me.” When Dr. Mark E. Keenum, MSU President, asked how to refer to the new doctorate honoree, Colonel Johnson said, “Call me Colonel, there are a lot of doctors around here but only one Colonel.”

Along with his parents, Colonel Johnson is preceded in death by his wife Catherine Biggs Johnson.

Colonel Johnson is survived by his son, Larry Johnson of Cordova, TN; a daughter from a previous relationship, Gina Castonguay of Boscaween, NH; grandchildren, Allison Egan (Tom) of Watertown, MA; and Stephen Pleau of Hollis, ME; great Grandchildren, Autumn, Rachael and Luke.
He is survived by his long time neighbor and friends, Claire and David Jackson, whom the family would like to thank for their care, compassion and friendship over the years. He is also survived by his good friend and football companion, Jeff Little of the MSU Foundation.

He is also survived by his longtime friends and gardening partners, Mike and Sherry Sherman of Lena, Mississippi.

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Previous Events

Visitation

Thursday

29

Jul

12:00 PM 7/29/2021 12:00:00 PM
Sebrell Funeral Home

425 Northpark Drive
Ridgeland, MS 39157

Sebrell Funeral Home
425 Northpark Drive Ridgeland 39157 MS
United States

Funeral Service

Thursday

29

Jul

1:00 PM 7/29/2021 1:00:00 PM
Sebrell Funeral Home

425 Northpark Drive
Ridgeland, MS 39157

Sebrell Funeral Home
425 Northpark Drive Ridgeland 39157 MS
United States

Cemetery Details

Location

Lakewood Memorial Park Final Resting Place

6000 Clinton Blvd
Jackson, MS 39209

6000 Clinton Blvd Jackson 39209 MS
United States
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