S.E. Michigan
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Gene Johnson
War: World War II
Branch: United States Navy
Birth Year: 1921
Place of Birth: Tenessee
Theater: South Pacific/Africa/Europe
Decorations: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, American Campaign, Europian-Africa Campaign


Gene enlisted in the Navy in 1940, at age 19. Living in Tennessee at the time, he was sent first to Knoxville and then onto Norfolk, Virginia for his basic training. He was eventually transported to Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii via an oil tanker where he was assigned to the battleship the West Virginia, in September of 1940. The West Virginia was hit several times during the bombing of Pearl Harbor which led to its eventual sinking.

When the opportunity arrived, Gene signed up for duty on the Lexington – however it too was sunk in the Coral Sea just weeks before the battle of Midway. He was transferred back to Norfolk, Virginia where he was assigned to the Thomas Stone, a troop transport. Gene was transferred once again, this time to the North African Naval Headquarters in Algiers. After the Germans were forced out of North Africa his entire unit was transferred to Naples, Italy where once again he worked for the transportation department.

After his leave he was assigned to the U.S.S. Columbus, where he served through the end of the war until his enlistment was up in 1946. After leaving the Navy, Gene returned to Knoxville, Tennessee. His search for a better job brought him to Michigan in 1948 where he first worked for Packard. He then moved to Ypsilanti where he worked at Kaiser-Frasier until it closed. Gene quickly got another job at Ford Motor Company’s Ypsilanti plant where he worked for 30 years until his retirement in 1982.