Staff Sgt. Kevin Johnson
Rscue HC-130 Aircraft Flight Engineer
Staff Sgt. Kevin Johnson was referred to simply as “K J.”
Johnson’s real passion was flying. According to co-worker Tech. Sgt. Dave Love, K.J. was always flying. Since becoming a C-130 flight engineer in 1983, he amassed a total of 5,800 flying hours in a C-130 aircraft; 87 of those hours were in combat and 280 in combat flight support. A lot of those hours were spent away from his three children and wife.
“His wife, Shyrl, wants it known that he loved to fly and he enjoyed the life (of a flier),” said a fellow unit member, fighting back tears.
Johnson’s devotion to duty was nearly unparalleled. His peers never had a chance to tell him that, right after he left for Saudi, they had recommended him for upgrade to flight evaluator, the highest level of proficiency a flight engineer can attain.
Johnson had an additional duty in supply. Tech. Sgt. Charles “Stretch” Meador, a loadmaster who worked with Johnson in supply, said he could always hear KJ coming because he insisted on carrying his key ring in the bottom pocket of his flight suit.
“He couldn’t sneak up on you. You could hear him a mile away,” Meador said. “I used to hear him coming down the hail and yell out, ‘Hey KJ!’ and he always wondered how I always knew it was him.”
In addition to being a devoted family man and military member, Johnson was dedicated to the Lord. He was a faithful member of the Holy Name of Jesus parish in Indialantic, which held a memorial service June 28.
Johnson’s Christian beliefs helped him through another tragedy in 1985 when a C-130 from his unit crashed at Fort Hood. Johnson was there to help the families of those who died, just as others gathered around his family during their time of grief.