Lt. Col. Richard Riley Johnson
Richard Johnson was born in Piqua, Ohio, in 1922. His family moved many times during the Great Depression, leaving Ohio and going to Texas looking for work. He attended seven different elementary schools before returning to Illinois where his paternal grandparents resided in McLeansboro. There he entered high school, graduating in 1940. Immediately after graduating he hitch-hiked to Norfolk, Va., for a job opportunity. Everyone was involved in the preparations for the war and he easily got a job in an acetylene manufacturing plant.
Upon receiving an induction letter from the president, he enlisted in the Army Air Corp. After passing all the tests with only a high school education, he entered flight training at Maxwell Air Field in Montgomery, Ala., graduating from flight training in Dec 1943. He was then sent for combat training in Avon Park and MacDill Field in Florida. On April 5, 1944, they flew from Hunter Field in Savannah flying the northern route in a brand new B-17 and arrived in Molesworth Air Field in England on April 9,1944.
Mr. Johnson tells of his experiences flying 32 missions over enemy territory in his book which he wrote
later in life, Twenty Five Milk Runs. His last mission was August 8,1944, having flown two missions on D-Day due to weather conditions. He attained the rank of first lieutenant and returned to civilian life in Sept. 1945.
Spending his combat flight pay, he bought property in the little village of Deale, Md., on the Chesapeake Bay close to Washington, D.C., and started his painting business. However, love of flying continued throughout his life. In the early 1960s he volunteered time in Civil Air Patrol forming a cadet squadron in the Deale/ Shadyside area. He gave flight lessons to cadets wanting to learn to fly, many of them spending their careers in aviation later in life. Civil Air Patrol flew search and rescue missions all over the state of Maryland whenever a plane, private, military or commercial, was deemed missing. They held training missions and bivouacked periodically.
Mr. Johnson became a lieutenant colonel in CAP and served as a group commander of several squadrons. He also painted several planes that were acquired from the military.
As his life became busy with family and his profession (a contract painter self-employed throughout the Annapolis area), he was no longer active in CAP. He bought a small plane in 1962, a 1946 PA-12 which he used to tow banners on the weekends. You can read about those endeavors in his book which is sold through Amazon, Twenty Five Milk Runs.
Mr. Johnson was also very active in Maryland Archeology and Historic Preservation. He was president of the Anne Arundel Chapter of Archeology for 10 years and President of the State Archeology Society of Maryland for a few years, traveling throughout the state visiting sites and sharing his artifact collection by giving talks to many organizations.
In later years he joined the 303rd Bomb Group Association (aka “The Hell’s Angels”). This was a reunion group of veterans from the 303rd (The Mighty Eighth Airforce). He served as secretary for 3 years and then president in 2001.
He often said he had so many interests that he could never get beyond the A’s – Aviation, Archeology and Astronomy. He owned his PA-12 Super Cub until his death in 2016 at Age 94.
This scholarship fund was established by his good friend, John “Jack” McKibben, who was a helicopter pilot during Vietnam and later a pilot with United Airlines.