WWII Veteran celebrates 90 years well lived

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Selma Times-Journal

Glenn Johnson spent a pleasant evening on his birthday surrounded by friends and family at Tally Ho restaurant on Mangum Avenue. The evening was a celebration of a life well-lived.

Spry, with a robust voice, Johnson turned 90 years old on Tuesday. &8220;I have to keep all of these young people around here in line,&8221; Johnson said with a laugh as he looked around at his family and friends.

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Johnson served in the United States Army Air Force from 1942-1945 as an aerial engineer with the 438th Troop Carrier Group, 88th Squadron and flew C-47s, according to daughter Jo-Ann Johnson Costa. The group was responsible for carrying gliders, paratroopers, supplies, and troops.

He flew on every mission his plane, named &8220;The Margaret&8221; for his wife, Margaret, served. Those missions included every major battle from D-Day onward &8212;

the Battle of the Bulge and many, many others, Costa said.

Those missions totaled 138, including combat missions. The Margaret also served to replenish supplies for missions located behind enemy lines. Death was a very real danger, as missions included venturing into territories under German occupation.

Actual footage of The Margaret in action was shown in the 1983 television miniseries &8220;The Winds of War,&8221; based on a novel of the same name by Herman Wouk.

The Margaret was one of only two of the original 28 planes in the squadron that departed from Greenham Commons in Berkshire county, England, two miles south of the town of Newbury, and returned in operable condition. The other planes had either been destroyed or replaced.

Johnson&8217;s unit received a Presidential Unit Citation for their service in the war, Costa said.

The Citation is awarded to military units who display heroism in action, above and beyond the actions of other units.

In addition, Johnson received military decorations that included five Air Medals, seven Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart for his heroism.

As part of the celebration Tuesday, Johnson was presented with a certification of recognition written by Gov. Bob Riley and a letter written by Gen. Victor Eugene Renuart Jr., who currently serves as commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, thanking him for his service in the war.