Donald E. Johnson, Captain, USMC

Pittsburgh, PA

On this day set aside to honor those who have served, I have only one who has helped, guided and befriended me over the years. As you live each day, the day's tasks hide the reality that they will one day be taken from you. That's when you realize the hole left in your life. For all the years we had together I saw him as my dad, not as a veteran. At the age of 18, having just completed high school, I realized that I would be drafted in a few months. I had a decision to make and I asked for his advice. He pointed out the obvious. If you are drafted you will only serve for two years, but you will be trained, placed in an infantry company and sent to Vietnam. If you join you will serve for four years, but you can choose which branch of the military in which to serve, and you will be trained according to your aptitude. I decided to join the Navy and at that point we became good friends. At the age of 72 he died. I was asked to write of his passing for the paper. As I researched his WWII service to find his squadron I found that he was awarded 8 medals, 6 air medals and 2 DFC, and completed 50 combat missions in the South Pacific. He never talked about his service. I am honored to have him as my dad.

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