Serial Number: 18189215
489th - Sgt Bennie Johnson and friend
489th Bomb Group - 845th Squadron Ground Crew
(Photos from the Bennie Johnson Collection)
This great story was written by G Nelson Johnson (son of Sgt Bennie Johnson)
“In my search to find the ‘numbers’ on my Dad,I have really done a lot of research on his time in the AAF during WWII. Here is his time line and background history. Anyone is more than welcome to bring in any research data they may have for me. It would be so great to visit with one of his ol’ buds if there are any left.
(clik on the ‘Contact’ button on the left if you knew Bennie Johnson and wish to contact his son Nelson Johnson, via this website)
My Dad volunteered for the for the Army on October 24,1942 while living with my Uncle DW Johnson down in Beaumont,Texas. He worked as a pipe fitter/welder and had always been good at making do with material on hand. He was assigned to the Army Air Corp and sent to Seymour Johnson Field in Johnson County,North Carolina for aircraft mechanics training and from there to Chanute Field about 130 miles south of Chicago,Illinois. Old barracks and he made it sound like a step up from the CCC camps that he spent time in around Mena,Arkansas. He was trained as and Aircraft Instrument Specialist MOS 686. He could fix anything and this area suited him just fine.
From Chanute,it was on to Wendover,Utah and trained with a unit in preparation for duty in the European Theater of operation.
Dad was a bit of a rounder and at times would get busted as he would say that would get him in the doghouse with his immediate superiors.Must not have been a lot to do in Wendover,but my Daddy had lots of friends. As the days went by,the anticipation of heading overseas was probably both exciting and scary. There weren’t too many things Bennie Johnson was scared of and he would never dreamed of failing or ‘not being counted on’. He was good at what he did and close to the end of their time at Wendover,one of the bombardier/navigators asked Daddy if he could build him a set of instruments because the situation was where he had to lean back over to see the pilot’s instrument array and this would make his job easier. My Dad obliged and built a set that must have been a pretty impressive job. So impressive that all the other bombardiers in that squadron wanted some exactly like it. Well it got done. My Dad and another Instrument man lost their last weekend of leave in order to finish this task. He used to tell this story as a complaint,but also a brag because he must have done a great job of it. He never gave it the thought that it might save lives,shorten the war,bring him a service award,or any kind of recognition. Just helping out a buddy.
A train to Boston and a boat ride to England to a town by the name of Halesworth on the Channel coast. As a kid,it always sounded like Oilsworth because my Dad mimicked the Brit accent.I don’t remember a lot of the Halesworth stories except they involved fights with the locals and getting drug back to the barracks by the MP’s. He hated the task of pulling the KIA and wounded from the returning B-24’s. All friends. He did say they took him up to fly over Normandy to see the results of their handy work. Dad was in England from April 1944 to December of that year, back in time for Christmas home. Youngest of 12 and four served in the military. My Uncle JK was lost in the Pacific as a gunner on another B-24 and dad was sorry he never got to see him again.
The last of Dad’s time was spent at Tinker Field in Oklahoma City training on instruments for B-29’s. In England, he received Bronze Battle Stars for Northern France,Normandy,the Rhineland,and Air Offensive Europe. He also got a Good Conduct Ribbon,European theater, although his fight stories could have proved otherwise. He was honorably discharged in November 1945 in Roswell New Mexico.
My Dad rode on trains,planes,ships and things a small country boy may never had done except in this time in history.
My small bit of research tells he was probably was in the 489th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force.
I would have loved to sit with him and his old buddies and relive some of those wild tales. We are very proud of him and I honor him daily with my work ethic.”
G Nelson Johnson (proud son of Bennie Johnson)