21 September 1956 – Grumman company test pilot Tom Attridge shoots himself down in a Grumman F-11F Tiger, BuNo 138260, during a Mach 1.0 20 degree dive from 22,000 feet. Tom fires two bursts from the fighter’s 20mm cannon during the descent, and as he reaches 7,000 feet (2,100 m) the jet is struck multiple
Samuel R. Johnson
Congressman Sam Johnson, COL. USAF, Retired
Sam Johnson is a native Texan and beloved public servant frequently hailed for his patriotism, commitment to our republic and strong conservative values, and efforts on behalf of the North Texas constituents he served.
A graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School, Sam earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University and a Master’s degree in Industrial Administration from George Washington University.
Sam is also a decorated war hero who ranked among the few Members of Congress to fight in combat.
During his 29-year career in the U.S. Air Force, Representative Johnson served as the director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School (“Top Gun”) and was one of two authors of the air tactics manual revolutionizing military air dominance by incorporating three-dimensional flight – a manual that is still used today. One of his classmates in flight school was future astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Sam flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. During the Korean War, Sam flew 62 combat missions in his F-86, stationed just 25 miles from the front lines. In his plane – Shirley’s Texas Tornado named after his wife – he scored one MiG fighter kill, one probable, and one damaged.
He served as director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School and flew solo and slot positions in the F-100 Super Sabre with the Air Force Thunderbirds precision flying demonstration team.
In the Vietnam War during his first tour of duty, Sam worked at the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam headquarters in Saigon where he helped coordinate the first B-52 strikes under General Westmoreland. During his second tour, he flew F-4 Phantom II combat missions with the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing in Thailand. It was during his 25th combat mission of his second tour in 1966 that Sam was shot down.
Sam endured nearly seven years as a Prisoner of War in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, including 42 months in solitary confinement after his captors labeled him a “die-hard.” He spent 72 days in leg stocks, 2 ½ years in leg irons, and experienced severe starvation and torture.
Sam chronicles his POW experience in solitary confinement in his autobiography, Captive Warriors. The book details the stories of the self-named “Alcatraz Gang,” including great American patriots, such as Jeremiah Denton and Jim Stockdale.
Sam returned home to Texas in February 1973 as part of “Operation Homecoming.”
He was decorated with the following military awards: Silver Star with 1 oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with 2 oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star with Valor Device, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart with 1 oak leaf cluster, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Combat Readiness Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, Korea Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon with 5 oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster, Vietnam Service Medal with 8 oak leaf clusters, Korean Presidential Unit Citation Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Device, Vietnam (RVN) Campaign Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with 4 oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor device.
Following his distinguished military career, Sam established a home-building business in North Dallas from scratch and served in the Texas State legislature before running for the United States House of Representatives in 1991 during a special election.
Sam held a House leadership role as a Deputy Whip. Prior to retirement, he was a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means where he has served as the Chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee since 2011. He also sat on the Health Subcommittee.
A fiscal hawk and constitutional conservative who advocated for lower taxes and smaller government, Sam has proved himself as a respected leader with a rock-solid record. He is one of four founding members who established the Conservative Action Team, known today as the Republican Study Committee.
A few of his recent landmark legislative accomplishments include:
- Removed penalties for American seniors who want to work by passing a law in 2000 that eliminated the Retirement Earnings Test (RET) for folks who are at or above their retirement age.
- Repealing the Wright Amendment to allow Dallas’ Love Field Airport the ability to offer direct flights, increasing competition, and saving North Texans’ time and money (H.R. 2646, The Right to Fly Act).
- Protecting Americans’ identity by passing a law to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards (H.R. 380).
- Securing the approval for two new local Veterans Health Clinics in Plano – a Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) that opened in September of 2016 as well as a Specialty Clinic that will also be located in Plano. These clinics, which allow veterans to receive proper health care closer to home, provide an alternative to the Dallas VA (a long commute).
- Honoring Korean War veterans by passing a law to allow for the construction of a Wall of Remembrance to be added to the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Wall will list the names of all members of the U.S. Armed Forces who gave their lives in support of Freedom during the Korean War. It will also list the total number of all American POWs and MIAs from the Korean War.
- Working to ensure North Texas does not experience a water shortage in 2021 due to the community’s population boom. He had an amendment signed into law in 2016 (S. 612) to expedite the permitting process for the Lower Bois d’Arc Creek Reservoir, which was issued in 2018. Groundbreaking for the lake occurred on May 25, 2018.
In 2009, Sam’s peers recognized him as the “most admired” Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, in 2009 the prestigious Congressional Medal of Honor Society bestowed Sam their highest civilian accolade, the National Patriot Award, for his tireless work on behalf of the troops, veterans, and freedom.
In 2011, Sam accepted the “Freedom of Flight” award at the Living Legends of Aviation Awards, dubbed the Oscars of aviation, from renowned air show pilot Bob Hoover.
Also in 2011, the renowned bipartisan publication, National Journal, named Sam the most conservative Member of Congress based solely on his voting record.
In 2016, the Bipartisan Policy Center awarded U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson (TX-03) with its first Congressional Patriot Award. The biennial award recognizes “two Members of Congress – one Democrat and one Republican – who have performed patriotic deeds worthy of remembrance.” Johnson shared the award stage with Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), the iconic civil rights activist and first Democrat recipient of the award.
In addition to representing the 3rd District, Sam served as a Regent for the world-famous Smithsonian Institution, where he represented the Board of Regents on the Advisory Board of the National Air and Space Museum. His tin cup, smuggled out of Vietnam from his time in captivity, is on display in the Smithsonian Institute American History Museum.
In 2017 the Social Security conference room in the Rayburn Building of the Capitol complex was named the Sam Johnson Room and his portrait hangs there today. Texas Tech University announced the naming of the largest archival of Vietnam records the Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive.
In 2018 Plano, Texas named the Sam Johnson Recreation Center, while Prosper Independent School District announced a new elementary school to be called the Sam Johnson Elementary located in Celina, Texas.
His papers and artifacts are held by Southern Methodist University in Dallas. Both SMU and Dallas Baptist University offer scholarships in his name
Sam Johnson was married 65 years to the love of his life, the late Shirley L. Melton of Dallas who passed away December 3, 2015. They have three children, ten grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Source: Bio provided by Sam’s daughter, Beverly.