Ace of Aces: Bob Johnson (1920-1998)
In 1929, eight-year-old Robert Johnson watched World War I stunt pilots dazzle the crowd at Lawton’s Wiley Post Field. “Then and there I changed my goal…to Army aviator,'' Johnson remembered. As rugged as the P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane he piloted in World War II, the former Lawton High football star would shoot down 27 Axis planes and become the second-leading American ace in the European Theater.
He helped lead the 56th Fighter Group, the greatest American combat fighter force of the war. In his last of 89 combat missions, a vast dogfight over Germany, he shot down two planes. An excerpt of his report read:
“About 30 Huns were over the (American) bombers…Smoke was coming from the (formation) and one was going down. I started after the Jerries and then saw a Me109 diving at me. I rolled and fired at it, but missed. Then he squirted at me and missed. I made another turn, and he tried to outrun me, the…fool. He went down, rolling and turning to evade, and I hit him every half roll. When his wing came off I figured he'd had it.”
Johnson’s last dogfight broke Eddie Rickenbacker’s 26-victory American record from World War I.