Upon Silver Wings, Jerry Manuel Johnson took his final flight on Aug. 13, 2021 at 12:46 a.m. to be with his Lord and Savior. At the age of 81, his warrior’s heart decided he had done enough for his country and stopped beating.
Born on Sept. 5, 1939 to Mae Norton Johnson and Jessie Willard Johnson in Carrollton, Ga., he leaves on this earth his loving wife of 37 years, Zelda M. Graves; siblings, Terry Johnson (JoAnn), Larry Johnson (Hilda), and Christine Reeves; also his beloved daughters, Cynthia McCauley (Damon) and Crystal Martinez (Earnie) and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Additionally, his sweet little cats, for which he had a special love in his heart.
His military career was marked by continuous advancement and achievement.
His assignments included: Georgia National Guard; United States Army Training Command, Fort Jackson, S.C., United States Army Europe, Lebanon; United States Psychological Warfare School, Fort Brag Georgia, N.C.; Ranger Department, United States Army Infantry Center and School, Fort Benning, Ga., Vietnam; 24th Infantry Division; United States Navy Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Ill., Light Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 33; and finally the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department, Naval Air Station, Kingsville, Texas.
While serving for the U.S. Army, he was graduated from the University of Hawaii with a Bachelor’s Degree.
Jerry was the most highly decorated veteran in Kleberg County, Texas, in recognition of his outstanding performance of duty, having been awarded the medals of four Silver Stars, three Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, a Combat Infantry Badge, and an endless list of other awards. He served in Vietnam as an Army Green Beret for a total of 39 months (non-consecutively) as a Staff Sergeant. Upon a family emergency, he left the U.S. Army, but later was recruited by the U.S. Navy.
In total, Jerry served his country on active duty for 39 years and 6 months.
After retirement from the military, he worked for various contractor organizations at Naval Air Station and Corpus Christi Depot.
Jerry was always a loving and compassionate human whom cared greatly for his family, country, and fellow Veterans. He served many offices with the local Kingsville Ernest L. Anderson American Legion Post #99 including Commander, as well as The AL 14th District: The Department of the TX AL as an Assistant Sergeant at Arms, the Department of TX as a Sergeant at Arms, and upon the National AL level as an Assistant Sergeant at Arms for several years. He also served leadership roles for the local VFW, DAV, and Purple Heart Chapter.
Jerry was a member of ANAVICUS (Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada-US Unit) for which one must be recommended by a Past American Legion National Commander. He was a member of the Kingsville Chamberlain Masons Lodge, as well as the Kingsville Elks Lodge, and will be sorely missed by all his friends.
Jerry lived a joyous, hardworking, humble and loving life; was quite a jokester and had a charming personality; was kind in sharing his knowledge with others and was a good friend to all whom knew him. He is every American’s hero, whether they know it or not, and the world is a lesser place without him in it.
Upon Jerry’s wishes, there will be no funeral ceremony, but perhaps a local Memorial Remembrance at the Kingsville American Legion at some point. His wife and children plan to take his cremains to be interred at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C. in the future.
His favorite song was “Silver Wings.”