Sam Johnson

Samuel Robert Johnson (October 11, 1930 – May 27, 2020) was an American politician who served as the U.S. Representative for Texas's 3rd congressional district in Congress from 1991 to 2019. He was a member of the Republican Party. In October and November 2015, he was the acting Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, where he also served as chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee.

Sam Johnson
Sam Johnson, official 109th Congress photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 3rd district
In office
May 8, 1991 – January 3, 2019
Preceded bySteve Bartlett
Succeeded byVan Taylor
Acting Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee
In office
October 29, 2015 – November 5, 2015
Preceded byPaul Ryan
Succeeded byKevin Brady
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 60th district
In office
January 8, 1985 – May 21, 1991
Preceded byFrank Eikenburg
Succeeded byBrian McCall
Personal details
Born
Samuel Robert Johnson

(1930-10-11)October 11, 1930
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
DiedMay 27, 2020(2020-05-27) (aged 89)
Plano, Texas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Shirley Melton
(m. 1950; died 2015)
Children3
EducationSouthern Methodist University (BBA)
George Washington University (MS)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Air Force
Years of service1950–1979
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit51st Fighter Interceptor Wing
8th Tactical Fighter Wing
Commands31st Tactical Fighter Wing
Battles/warsKorean War
Vietnam War
AwardsSilver Star (2)
Legion of Merit (3)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star with valor
Purple Heart (2)
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal (4)
Prisoner of War Medal

Johnson was also a United States Air Force colonel and was a decorated fighter pilot in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War where in the latter he was an American prisoner of war in North Vietnam for nearly seven years. On January 6, 2017, Johnson announced he would not run for reelection in 2018.[1] After the death of Louise Slaughter in March 2018, he became the oldest sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He was the last Korean War veteran to serve in Congress.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

Johnson was born October 11, 1930, in San Antonio, Texas, the son of Mima (Nabors) and Samuel Robert Johnson Jr. .[3][4] Johnson grew up in Dallas and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1947.[5] Johnson graduated from Southern Methodist University in his hometown in 1951, earning a bachelor's degree in business administration. While at SMU, Johnson joined the Delta Chi social fraternity as well as the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.[6] He attained a master's degree from the Elliott School of International Affairs of the George Washington University in 1976.[7][8]

Military careerEdit

 
Johnson in flight school in 1951
 
Johnson as a first lieutenant in 1957

Johnson had a 29-year career in the United States Air Force, where he served as director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School and flew the F-100 Super Sabre with the Air Force Thunderbirds precision flying demonstration team. He commanded the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead AFB, Florida and an air division at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, retiring as a colonel. One of his classmates in flight school was future astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The two remained lifelong friends.[9][10]

He was a combat veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars as a fighter pilot. During the Korean War, he flew 62 combat missions in the F-86 Sabre and shot down one Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. During the Vietnam War, Johnson flew the F-4 Phantom II.[7]

POWEdit

On April 16, 1966, while flying his 25th combat mission in Vietnam, he was shot down over North Vietnam and suffered a broken arm and back. He was a prisoner of war for nearly seven years, including 42 months in solitary confinement. During this period, he was repeatedly tortured.[7][11]

Johnson was part of a group of eleven U.S. military prisoners known as the Alcatraz Gang, a group of prisoners separated from other captives for their resistance to their captors. They were held in "Alcatraz", a special facility about one mile away from the Hỏa Lò Prison, notably nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton". Johnson, like the others, was kept in solitary confinement, locked nightly in legcuffs in a windowless 3-by-9-foot concrete cell with the light on around the clock.[12][13][14][15][16] Johnson was released on February 12, 1973, during Operation Homecoming. He recounted the details of his POW experience in his autobiography, Captive Warriors.[7][11]

In 2018, Johnson donated objects related to his imprisonment to the collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.[17]

Johnson walked with a noticeable limp, due to a wartime injury.[18]

Post-military career in TexasEdit

After his military career, he established a homebuilding business in Plano. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1984 and was re-elected three times, serving a total of seven years in the state legislature.[11]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

 
Johnson and Dick Cheney in 2001
 
Sam and Shirley Johnson with Governor Rick Perry in 2003
 
Johnson greeting Oliver North in 2006
 
Johnson with fellow POW John McCain in 2016

On May 8, 1991, he was elected to the U.S. House in a special election brought about by eight-year incumbent Steve Bartlett's resignation to become mayor of Dallas. Johnson defeated fellow conservative Republican Thomas Pauken, also of Dallas, 24,004 (52.6 percent) to 21,647 (47.4 percent).[19]

Selected electionsEdit

2004

Johnson ran unopposed by the Democratic Party in his district in the 2004 election. Paul Jenkins, an independent, and James Vessels, a member of the Libertarian Party, ran against Johnson. Johnson won overwhelmingly in a highly Republican district. Johnson garnered 86% of the vote (178,099), while Jenkins earned 8% (16,850) and Vessels 6% (13,204).[20]

2006

Johnson ran for re-election in 2006, defeating his opponent Robert Edward Johnson in the Republican primary, 85 to 15 percent.[21][22]

In the general election, Johnson faced Democrat Dan Dodd and Libertarian Christopher J. Claytor. Both Dodd and Claytor are West Point graduates. Dodd was a U.S. Air Force officer who served in Vietnam,[23] while Claytor served in Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait in 1992.[24] It was only the fourth time that Johnson had faced Democratic opposition.[25]

Johnson retained his seat, taking 62.5% of the vote, while Dodd received 34.9% and Claytor received 2.6%.[26] However, this was by far less a margin of victory then in past years, when Johnson won by 80 percent or more.[20]

2008

Johnson retained his seat in the House of Representatives by defeating Democrat Tom Daley and Libertarian nominee Christopher J. Claytor in the 2008 general election. He won with 60 percent of the vote, an unusually low total for such a heavily Republican district.[21]

2010

Johnson won re-election with 66.3 percent of the vote against Democrat John Lingenfelder (31.3 percent) and Libertarian Christopher Claytor (2.4 percent).[27]

2014

Johnson handily won re-nomination to his twelfth full term in the U.S. House in the Republican primary held on March 4. He polled 30,943 votes (80.5 percent); two challengers, Josh Loveless and Harry Pierce, held the remaining combined 19.5 percent of the votes cast.[28]

2016

Johnson won reelection to his 13th full term in the general election held on November 8, 2016. With 193,684 votes (61.2 percent), he defeated Democrat Adam P. Bell, who polled 109,420 (34.6 percent). Scott Jameson and Paul Blair, the nominees of the Libertarian and Green parties, polled 10,448 votes (3.3 percent) and 2,915 (0.92 percent), respectively.[29]

2018

Three days after being sworn in for his 14th term overall and his 13th full term, Johnson announced he would not run for reelection.[1]

TenureEdit

In the House, Johnson was an ardent conservative.[7][11] By some views, Johnson had the most conservative record in the House for three consecutive years, opposing pork barrel projects of all kinds, voting for more IRAs and against extending unemployment benefits. The conservative watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste consistently rated him as being friendly to taxpayers. Johnson was a signer of Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[30]

Johnson was a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee,[31] and joined Dan Burton, Ernest Istook, and John Doolittle in refounding it in 1994 after Newt Gingrich pulled its funding.[32] He alternated as chairman with the other three co-founders in the late 1990s.[33]

On the Ways and Means Committee, he was an early advocate and, then, sponsor of the successful repeal in 2000 of the earnings limit for Social Security recipients. He proposed the Good Samaritan Tax Act to allow corporations to take a tax deduction for charitable giving of food. He chaired the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations, where he encouraged small business owners to expand their pension and[34] benefits for employees. In December 2016, Johnson introduced H.R. 6489, a bill that would decrease Social Security payments to retired individuals and require individuals to wait two additional years in order to qualify for full retirement payments.[35][36]

Johnson opposed calls for government intervention in the name of energy reform if such reform would hamper the market and or place undue burdens on individuals seeking to earn decent wages.[37] He called for allowing additional drilling for oil in Alaska.[38]

After the death of John McCain, Johnson became the only Vietnam-era prisoner of war serving in Congress.[39]

Net neutralityEdit

In December 2017, Johnson signed a letter from Congress (along with 106 other Congress members) to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai supporting his plan to repeal net neutrality ahead of the commission's vote.[40]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Caucus membershipsEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Johnson was married to Shirley L. Melton of Dallas from 1950 until her death on December 3, 2015.[47] They had three children together (Gini, Beverly, and Bob) and ten grandchildren. Bob predeceased both his parents in 2013.[7]

Johnson died on May 27, 2020 in Plano, Texas, the city where he lived the last years of his life. The cause of death was not disclosed but a former spokesperson had announced it was unrelated to COVID-19.[48] He was 89.[7][11]

Military awardsEdit

Johnson's decorations and awards included:[49]

  US Air Force Command Pilot Badge
  Air Force Parachutist Badge
Silver Star with bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with two bronze oak leaf clusters
  Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal with V device
Purple Heart with bronze oak leaf cluster
  Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal with three bronze oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster
  Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with V device and three bronze oak leaf clusters
  Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (second ribbon required for accouterment spacing)
  Prisoner of War Medal
Combat Readiness Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Korean Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars
Vietnam Service Medal with three silver and bronze campaign stars
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver oak leaf cluster
  Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
  Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
  Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross
  United Nations Service Medal for Korea
  Vietnam Campaign Medal
  Korean War Service Medal

Other awards and honorsEdit

BibliographyEdit

  • 1992, Captive Warriors: A Vietnam P.O.W.'s Story; ISBN 0-89096-496-3

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Scott Bland; Kyle Cheney (January 6, 2017). "Texas Rep. Sam Johnson announces he won't run for reelection". Politico.
  2. ^ "With McCain's Death, Carper Is Senate's Only Vietnam Veteran". Bloomberg Government. August 26, 2018. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  3. ^ Neal, John Whitman Monroe (1976). Neighbours. Taylor Publishing Company. p. 86.
  4. ^ "Mima Nabors Johnson (1903-1992) - Find A Grave..." www.findagrave.com. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  5. ^ U.S. Congress.Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: Sam Johnson
  6. ^ Rotunda Yearbook. Dallas, Texas: Southern Methodist University. 1951. p. 284.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Weissert, Will (May 27, 2020). "Sam Johnson, ex-Texas GOP congressman and Vietnam POW, dies". Associated Press. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  8. ^ Morreale, Johnny (November 8, 2016). "Business school alumnus re-elected in Texas congressional race". The GW Hatchet. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  9. ^ "BUZZ" (PDF). AIR FORCE Magazine.
  10. ^ "U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson : Serving the 3rd District of Texas". Samjohnson.house.gov. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c d e Swartsell, Nick (May 27, 2020). "Longtime Texas congressman Sam Johnson, POW in Vietnam, dies at age 89". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  12. ^ Adams, Lorraine. "Perot's Interim Partner Spent 7​12 Years As Pow", Dallas Morning News, March 11, 1992. Accessed July 2, 2008. "He was one of the Alcatraz Gang – a group of 11 prisoners of war who were separated because they were leaders of the prisoners' resistance."
  13. ^ Rochester, Stuart; and Kiley, Frederick. "Honor Bound: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1961–1973", 2007, Naval Institute Press; ISBN 1-59114-738-7, via Google Books, p. 326. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
  14. ^ Stockdale, James B. "George Coker for Beach Schools", letter to The Virginian-Pilot, March 26, 1996.
  15. ^ Johnston, Laurie (December 18, 1974). "Notes on People, Mao Meets Mobutu in China". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  16. ^ Kimberlin, Joanne (November 11, 2008). "Our POWs: Locked up for 6 years, he unlocked a spirit inside". The Virginian Pilot. Landmark Communications. pp. 12–13. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  17. ^ "Advisory: Smithsonian Accepts Congressman Sam Johnson's POW Possessions; Tin Cup, Toothpaste From Vietnam War Join National Museum of American History's Collections". newsdesk.si.edu. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  18. ^ "A touching tribute: McCain's former Vietnam cellmate Republican Rep. Sam Johnson honors his friend". MSN. Retrieved December 12, 2018.
  19. ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections 6th ed., Washington, D.C., 2010, p. 1341
  20. ^ a b "Member Profile – Sam Johnson, R". Roll Call. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 9, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Dallas-Fort Worth Politics | The Dallas Morning News". Dallasnews.com. March 8, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  23. ^ "Texas candidates for State Representative, Governor, State Cabinet, U.S. Senator and Congress". North Texas e-News. January 12, 2006. Archived from the original on May 28, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  24. ^ "Christopher Claytor, candidate for United States Representative". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on May 28, 2020. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  25. ^ Guttery, Ben R. (2007). Representing Texas. BookSurge Publishing. p. 84.
  26. ^ Porter, Brian (November 14, 2006). "County goes Democratic; Republicans hold state, national posts". Mesquite News. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  27. ^ "Texas Election Results 2010". The New York Times. 2010. Retrieved March 15, 2011.
  28. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014". Texas Secretary of State. Archived from the original on March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  29. ^ "Election Results". Texas Secretary of State. November 8, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  30. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List" (PDF). Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  31. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  32. ^ Alberta, Tim (May 24, 2013). "The Cabal That Quietly Took Over the House". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  33. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (May 25, 2020). "The NEA's Uphill Battle". April 10, 1997. Retrieved May 25, 2020.
  34. ^ "Bill Summary & Status – 109th Congress (2005–2006) – H.R.525 – THOMAS (Library of Congress)". Thomas.loc.gov. July 27, 2005. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  35. ^ Wolff-Mann, Ethan. "GOP introduces plan to massively cut Social Security". Yahoo Finance. December 9, 2016.
  36. ^ "H.R.6489: To preserve Social Security for generations to come, reward work, and improve retirement security". United States Congress. December 8, 2016; retrieved December 12, 2016.
  37. ^ "Sam Johnson on Energy & Oil". On the Issues. Snopes. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  38. ^ Roth, Bennett (November 9, 2005). "Moderate Republicans balk at refuge drilling". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  39. ^ Catalina Camia (March 14, 2013). "McCain marks 40th anniversary of POW release". Army Times. USA Today. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  40. ^ "Letter to the FCC on Restoring Internet Freedom". ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE. December 13, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
  41. ^ a b "Neal Statement on the Passing of Former Ways and Means Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson". House Committee on Ways and Means. US House of Representatives. May 27, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  42. ^ "Joint Hearing on Statutorily Required Audits of Medicare Advantage Plan Bids". House Committee on Ways and Means. US House of Representatives. October 16, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  43. ^ "General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in 2015 (Joint Committee Blue Book)". Joint Committee on Taxation. US House of Representatives. March 2016. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  44. ^ "Dangerous Liaisons: Congressmen to Join Nativist Hate Group Today". Southern Poverty Law Center. November 6, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  45. ^ "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 2, 2018.
  46. ^ "Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus Membership in the 115th Congress" (PDF). Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus. December 5, 2018. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  47. ^ "Congressman Sam Johnson on the passing of wife, Shirley Melton Johnson". Congressman Sam Johnson. December 3, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  48. ^ writerEmailEmailBioBioFollowFollow, Matt Schudel closeMatt SchudelObituary. "Sam Johnson, Vietnam POW who became a Texas congressman, dies at 89". Washington Post. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  49. ^ "Veteran Tributes". www.veterantributes.org. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  50. ^ "Woodrow Wilson Hall of Fame". Woodrow Wilson High School Alumni Association. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  51. ^ "Congressional Medal of Honor Society selects Sam Johnson for its National Patriot Award | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Texas Politics | The Dallas Morning News". Dallasnews.com. October 3, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  52. ^ "Sam Johnson - gop.gov". Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  53. ^ "Sam Johnson Awarded Inaugural Bipartisan Congressional Patriot Award". Congressman Sam Johnson. March 16, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  54. ^ report, Staff. "U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson honored with Patriot Award at Dallas Military Foundation Gala". Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  55. ^ Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1-57864-397-4.

External linksEdit

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
Frank Eikenburg
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 60th district

1985–1991
Succeeded by
Brian McCall
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Steve Bartlett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 3rd congressional district

1991–2019
Succeeded by
Van Taylor
Preceded by
Paul Ryan
Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee
Acting

2015
Succeeded by
Kevin Brady
Chair of the Joint Taxation Committee
Acting

2015
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Louise Slaughter
Oldest member of the U.S. House of Representatives
2018–2019
Succeeded by
Don Young
Party political offices
Preceded by
Dan Burton
Chair of the Republican Study Committee
1995–1999
Served alongside: Dan Burton, John Doolittle, Ernest Istook
Succeeded by
David McIntosh
Preceded by
David McIntosh
Chair of the Republican Study Committee
2000–2001
Succeeded by
John Shadegg