Member Profile: Major General LD Johnston (Ret)
Career Title: Former Commander, Air Warfare Center,
Nellis Air Force Base, Las Nevada, NV
Member since: 1990
When approached to be the member profile L.D. said:
I really don't measure up to the truly Great Americans I've known, nor the young troops who are serving overseas right now… I can't imagine anyone would want to read about an old busted-up fighter pilot!
Q: How long have you been with One Nevada?
Q: Favorite thing about One Nevada Credit Union?
My wife and I have been credit union members for over 45 years, and we love the people and the professionalism of the folks at One Nevada Credit Union.
Q: When did you enlist in the Air Force and what attracted you to join?
Like many of our young Airmen today, in 1965, the Air Force ROTC program at Oklahoma State provided the "financial aid" that enabled me to afford college. The minute I lifted-off on a junior-year "orientation flight" in an Air Force fighter, I knew I wanted to fly fighters forever.
Q: What's the most memorable event of your first assignment in Vietnam?
That would have to be the F-4 Phantom mission where my jet was hit by ground fire, and we ejected over North Vietnam. Except for malfunctions in the ejection seat and parachute, and being shot at in the chute, it wasn't that bad. My partner in the fighter was captured, but a Navy rescue-man (from my own high school) and his chopper crew kept me from being killed or captured.
Q: What Air Force planes did you fly primarily?
During the first 10 years, I flew the F-4 in Vietnam, California, Georgia, Spain and Germany. The last 20+ years I flew the F-16 here at Nellis (on three assignments), South Carolina, Korea, Georgia and Southwest Asia.
Q: What were your assignments at Nellis Air Force Base?
My wife and I were extraordinarily fortunate to be assigned at Nellis for 8 of our 32 years in the Air Force. In the mid-80s, we were part of a combat-ready F-16 wing, culminating as a squadron commander. In the early 90s, I was the commander of the Weapons School (the Air Force version of Top Gun). In 2000, I was blessed with the best "old guy, flying job" in the Air Force, commander of Nellis' Warfare Center.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of your Air Force career?
It was certainly exciting to fly and fight at low and high altitude over almost every continent and having the opportunity to lead combat forces from Southeast Asia to Southwest Asia. But serving in remote locations with our young troops was the most rewarding. Unfortunately, the average American isn't able to see the unbelievable dedication and selflessness of our country's young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.
Q: What was the toughest part of your 32 years in the Service?
"Family separation" has always been a challenge for military members, and it certainly is today. There's no way to completely ease the personal pain of missing a child's birth, birthday or their first Christmas. I saw it break-up marriages, distance parents from their children, and cause more heartache than our great troops deserved. We knew and know it's a part of the mission, but it's still a tough biscuit. It's also why my wife Sherri and I really enjoy our son Richard and his wife Jangme, living here in the Vegas valley.
Q: What do you remember most about your last assignment as the Warfare Center commander at Nellis?
After three decades of watching our Airmen do incredible things, using their ingenuity and aggressiveness when deployed or in combat situations, these young Americans blew me away in the way they handled the events of "911." From the initial alerts that Tuesday morning, to the tireless way they performed unimaginable tasks in defense of Nellis and the Vegas valley, to their preparation for potential conflict, it just makes you proud to be associated with such outstanding Warriors.
Thank you for your service L.D.J!