Sam Johnson: Introduction (01:28)
Johnson joined the Air Force ROTC in college. He attended flight school, flew 62 combat missions in Korea, was lead solo pilot for the Thunderbirds, and the director of Top Gun. He flew 25 missions in Vietnam before getting shot down and imprisoned.
Johnson's Early Years (02:43)
Johnson was born in Texas in 1930. He signed up for ROTC at Southern Methodist University and attended flight school during the Korean War. He flew the P-5, befriended Buzz Aldrin, and was assigned to the F-86.
Korean War (03:41)
Johnson was eager to engage in combat but commanders eased them into it. Johnson and Aldrin modified their aircraft to improve performance; he flew 62 combat missions. Johnson recalls shooting a MiG.
Tenure at Nellis (02:49)
Johnson became a gunnery instructor at Nellis Air Force Base and co-wrote a tactical manual for fighter pilots. He flew with the Thunderbirds for two years, did a tour in Europe, and became director of the Fighter Weapons School.
Cuban Missile Crisis (02:00)
In 1962, Johnson received orders to quietly move aircraft to Florida. He was assigned as a forward air controller in Cuba and reported to parachute school. Johnson helped write the first air support manual for the Air Force.
Vietnam War (02:57)
In 1965, Johnson was assigned to MAC-V and helped coordinate the first B-52 strike against North Vietnam. Johnson recalls talking to the White House. After rehabbing his knee in the U.S., Johnson returned to Vietnam.
Return to Vietnam (04:11)
Johnson was surprised by the rules of engagement. On his 25th mission, Johnson was shot down and captured. He and Everett Alvarez recall their imprisonment.
"Hanoi Hilton" (02:56)
Johnson was held captive for nearly seven years. After four years of solitary confinement, he entered a cell shared by two American officers. Johnson returned home in 1973, was elected to Congress in 1991, and continued to fly.
Credits: Legends of Air Power: Sam Johnson (00:28)
Credits: Legends of Air Power: Sam Johnson
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