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Leon William Johnson


Col. Leon Johnson, the commander of the 44th Bomb Group from the 8th Air Force in Britain provided superior leadership in planning and training his pilots from the 8th Air force from the U.K. to employ very low altitude flying, before and during Operation Tidal Wave, the mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, in the B-24D Liberator bomber, 41-23817, named, Suzy Q. 1 August 1943.

He was the Commanding Officer and Colonel of the 44th Bomb Group from, 4 Jan, 43, until 2 Sep, 43, and deployed (TDY) with the 44th Bomb Group from the UK, to serve with the 9th Air Force at Benina Main, Libya, for the Ploesti mission.

Col. Johnson was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership of the 44th Bomb Group on Operation Tidal Wave, Ploesti, Romania.
Citation at

Col. Johnson's Military Awards :
Medal of Honor - Silver Star - Legion Of Merit - Distinguished Flying Cross - 1 Oak Leaf Cluster - Air Medal - 3 Oak Leaf Clusters - French Legion Of Honor - French Croix De Guerre - Belgian Croix De Guerre - British Distinguished Flying Cross



  • Arthur Agan

    Military | Lieutenant General
    Chief, Tactical Operations, 8th Air Force, February 1942 to January 1944. ...

  • Horace Austin

    Military | First Lieutenant | Pilot | 44th Bomb Group The Flying Eightballs
    1st Lt. Horace W. Austin, Jr. from Virginia Beach, VA, flew as command pilot in the B-24D 42-40778, 'Southern Comfort' on the Aug 1, 1943 raid on Ploesti, while temporarily assigned to the 9th Air Force. He received a Distinguished Flying Cross for...

  • Robert Brown

    Military | First Lieutenant | B-24 Co-Pilot | 93rd Bomb Group
    In early 1943, Lt. Robert L. Brown was a B-24 bomber copilot on a temporary duty assignment with the 8th Air Force, based in the U.K., temporarily detached (TDY) to the 9th Air Force in North Africa. ...

  • Keith Compton

    Military | Lieutenant General | B-24 Command Pilot - Squadron Commander - Commanding Officer | 376th Bomb Group
    Keith Karl Compton was an American Air Force Lieutenant General who was Vice Commander in Chief, in the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command. He flew as the Element Lead Aircraft's Command Pilot with Gen. Uzal Ent, the Ploesti Mission...

  • Edward Feldman

    Military | Sergeant
    Served in the staff of the Office of the Assistant G-3, 8th Air Force Headquarters.

  • Woodrow Green

    Military | Sergeant
    Served in the staff of the Office of the Assistant G-3, 8th Air Force Headquarters.

  • Delbert Hahn

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Command Pilot : Major Delbert Henry Hahn ...

  • John Kane

    Military | Colonel | B-24 Bomb Group Commanding Officer / B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    John Riley Kane was a colonel in the United States Army Air Corps and, later, in the United States Air Force. He received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honor, in World War II, for his leadership, courage, and...

  • Royden LeBrecht

    Military | Captain | B-24 Command Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    Lt. Royden Louis LeBrecht was a B-24D command pilot in the 9th Air Force, the 98th Bomb Group, and the 344th Bomb Squadron. He flew his B-24D, he named, The Squaw, on Operation Tidal Wave, the large mission to destroy the German held oil refineries at...

  • James Lindsey

    Military | Flight Officer | Co-Pilot | 98th Bomb Group
    2nd Lt. James Rex Lindsey was Lt. Gilbert Hadley's co-pilot on Hadley's B-24D, Hadley's Harem, in North Africa. He participated in, and had completed his part of the bombing mission, Operation Tidal Wave. But, Lt. Lindsey and Lt. "Gib" Hadley were...

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Units served with


  • 41-23817 - Suzy Q

    B-24 Liberator
    The B-24D, named, Suzy Q, flown by Pilot Lt. Robert I. Brown and commanded by Col. Leon Johnson, led the 44th Bomb Group on the Aug 1, 1943 Ploesti raid and was the most famous ship of the 67th Squadron. The plane was lost along with the 67th's plane,...


  • Operation Tidal Wave

    1 August 1943
    Operation TIDAL WAVE. B-24D Liberators attack the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. The bombers flew low to avoid radar detection and dropped time delayed bombs. Out of the 177 B-24s that took part in the raid 167 managed to attack their targets. 57...

Associated Place

  • Shipdham

    Military site : airfield
    Shipdham was built in 1941-1942, the first US heavy bomber airfield in the English county of Norfolk. It was a standard design, with T2-type hangars and a domestic site dispersed to the south east. Improvements were carried out to increase the number...


Event Location Date
Born Moline, KS 67353, USA
Died 10 November 1997


Date Contributor Update
23 January 2022 08:23:12 Kickapoo Changes to role

Added detail. - Kickapoo

Date Contributor Update
23 January 2022 08:13:40 Kickapoo Changes to role, biography and person associations

The Great Ground-Air Battle Of 1 August 1943

Date Contributor Update
06 September 2021 15:58:41 Kickapoo Changes to biography

Black Sunday - Michael Hill

Date Contributor Update
26 July 2021 08:52:44 Emily Changes to role and unit associations

Interviewed in 1972 by Thames Television for the World at War, IWM Collection 2822

Date Contributor Update
09 March 2021 11:44:31 decwriter Changes to awards

Modified awards to reflect what Gen Johnson received during World War II. According to his official Air Force biography picture, he was awarded the EAME Campaign Medal with 1 silver star device and and four bronze star devices, reflecting nine campaigns. He received additional awards and decorations after World War II to include the Distinguished Service Medal (Army version) with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Army of Occupation Medal, Medal for Humane Action, National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star and the Air Force Longevity Service Award with one Silver Oak Leaf Cluster and two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters.

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2015 17:54:54 Lucy May Changes to biography, unit associations and place associations

Combined with another duplicate record. Sources:
Lee Cunningham 10-Nov-2014. Description based on and

Date Contributor Update
13 November 2015 17:48:56 Lucy May Changes to middlename, service number, highest rank, role, biography, awards, events, person associations and unit associations

Added information from a duplicate record. Sources used in that duplicate record were:
14th Combat Bombardment Wing (H) by William B. Taylor; Who's Who in the Eighth Air Force and/or Biographical Directory Command & Staff Officers Eighth Air Force 1942-45 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:18:33 AAM AAM ingest

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia /