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Robert Kenneth Johnson



Units served with

  • 9th Air Force
  • 404th Fighter Group

    404th Fighter Group

    A unit history of the 404th Fighter Group is available online as a pdf:

  • 508th Fighter Squadron

    508th Fighter Squadron

    "During one of the many breaks in operations caused by weather, Lieut. Col. Cowart of the 555th Signal Aircraft Warning Battalion introduced to pilots of the [404th FB] Group a radar set known as the SCR-584 (Signal Corps Radio). It had the ability to...

Associated Place

  • Winkton

    Military site : airfield
    Prepared as an RAF Advanced Landing Ground in 1943, the land was released for grazing before it was again selected for aircraft use, and improved for the Ninth Air Force in 1944. Used briefly by the 404th Fighter Group, it was then abandoned,...

  • Juvincourt

    Military site : airfield

  • Chipelle

    Military site : airfield

  • St Trond

    Military site : airfield

  • Bretigny

    Military site : airfield


Event Location Date
Born Illinois 12 March 1919
Lived in Chicago, Illinois 1942

8037 S. Wolcott, Chicago, Ill.

Combat Mission Bethune, France 7 May 1944

On the second Bethune attack, which the 508th Squadron insisted hit Arras, Major Moon and Lt. Bob Johnson of that squadron cleared the target area of flak by dropping clusters of 16 fragmentation bombs before the rest of the Group came in. They flew so low they had to break away sharply to miss a tall water-tower.

Combat Mission Loire Valley, France 30 June 1944

The Group escorted C-47's to Normandy, took a third tour of beach patrol, or sat out the weather the next four days. The last day in June, each squadron ran a successful 12-ship reconnaissance across central Normandy to the Loire Valley, as usual hitting chiefly rail targets and some scattered road traffic. On the first, Bob "Senator" Johnson, now sprouting a handlebar moustache, got himself eight trucks with fragmentation bombs.

Combat Mission/Shot Down near Montain, France 9 August 1944

The seventh mission of the day, about 10 o'clock at night, was a rough one for Bob Johnson, His plane was hit by flak while bombing a string of enemy tanks east of Montain His oil line was broken, and the plane burst into flames at about 3,500 feet.

Major Leo Moon, the mission leader, said he ordered Johnson to bail out at about 2,500 feet,

"I circled above while he dropped to 2,000 and then 1,000 feet," Moon said. "He was still in almost level flight, and no sign of a parachute.

"The plane was at about 300 feet when it nosed over and dived toward the ground, and I saw the canopy fly off and the 'chute open. The 'chute almost collapsed, and swung Johnson in a wide arc as the plane crashed into a hill and exploded all over the place. I saw the flames leap out past the parachute. He swung back into a hedge-row and within seconds I saw a weapons carrier race up to him."

We discovered later that Johnson intentionally had refused to quit his plane until the last minute, to keep it from crashing into an American bivouac area occupied by an ordnance company. His plane finally hit only the width of a road from the area. Ordnance men rushed Johnson to an evacuation hospital, where he had 17 stitches put in a head cut-his only injury. Within a day the ordinance company commander forwarded a message of gratitude and appreciation for Johnson's action to the 508th Squadron.

Died Bergheim, Germany 9 November 1944

November 9th the 506th and 507th worked over a bridge across the Roer at Linnich, funnel for two main highways. The 508th off last, ran into low ceilings, rain, sleet and snow, but managed to unload its bombs on a marshalling yard at Bergheim, half way between Julich and Cologne. But the mission cost the squadron one of its finest veteran pilots, Bob "The Senator" Johnson, the man with the handle-bar mustache, who already had escaped death narrowly when he rode his plane down in a belly-landing in Normandy. The sleet and rain moved west over St. Trond, eliminating all missions for the rest of the day. During the storm there was a buzz-bomb explosion nearby an unusual occurrence, since most of them seemed headed for Brussels and Antwerp so Seba Eldridge of the 507th cracked: "Uh-oh-looks like the rain put the doodle-bug's fire out!"

Buried 1945

No Known Grave
Tablets of the Missing
Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery
Hombourg, Belgium


Date Contributor Update
20 November 2020 18:04:26 jmoore43 Changes to events

Added punctuation to an event "Description" to aid clarity.

Date Contributor Update
29 April 2019 00:27:02 466thHistorian Changes to events

Date Contributor Update
29 April 2019 00:22:48 466thHistorian Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nickname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, events, unit associations and place associations