Chester C. Johnson (1952/01/14)
A World War II pilot returned with his flying skills to a navy plane that let him down.
Chester C. Johnson was born on March 19, 1921, in Santa Clara County, California, to Mr. and Mrs. Hans P. Johnson of the Springfield district of the Pajaro Valley. Hans owned a farm and Chester and his brother, Mervin, performed chores while attending local schools. Chester enrolled in Watsonville High School about 1935. During his high school years, Chester was on the archery team, in the scholarship club and served as drum major for the band before graduating in 1939.
In September 1942, Chester Johnson was drafted and went into the US Navy where he was trained and commissioned an ensign. He then received additional instruction that qualified him to fly navy Liberator bombers. During World War II, Lt. (jg) Johnson flew as a co-pilot on a Liberator during the campaigns at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Philippines. For his services he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Following the war, Chester Johnson returned to the Pajaro Valley where he married Clara Schmiel, also of the Springfield district. In 1949 the couple had a daughter, Susan. His parents and brother moved to Venice, California, and it is believed that Chester and his family joined them in Southern California.
Johnson remained in the Naval Reserve and when the Korean War began, was recalled to active duty. Lt. Johnson reported to the navy patrol squadron VP-871 stationed at the Alameda Naval Air Station; and his wife and child joined him in the bay area.
In early January 1952, Lt. Johnson received orders assigning him to Patrol Bomber Squadron 772 based at Asugi, Japan, and he departed about January 10, 1952. On January 14, 1952, Chester Johnson was a crewmember aboard a PB4Y-2S Privateer patrol bomber flying out of the naval station when the aircraft developed double engine failure and crashed four miles east of Asugi. The crash killed Lieutenant Chester C. Johnson and the other eleven crewmembers. The location of his remains, if recovered, has not been identified.
(CBR; ABMC, WRP January 17, 1952 1:4)