Ronald J. Johnson (1966/12/17)

Christmas Eve 1966 was a sad occasion in the Harold Johnson household; they had just buried their son Ronald.

Ronald Joe Johnson was born in Kings County, California, on September 24, 1947, to Mr. and Mrs. Harold J. Johnson. Ronald's family included brothers Douglas, Gary and Mark and sisters Victoria and Jill. Ronald was raised in Soquel, California, attended local schools and was active in little league baseball. He and his teammates prided themselves in having won the 1960 little league championship for their community. In 1962 he entered Soquel High School, where he was remembered by one of his classmates as being a "nice person and a friend that loved cars." It may have been the love of cars that influenced his after-school employment at a local Chevron service station.

In early 1966 Ronald Johnson enlisted in the US Army and received basic and advanced individual training at an unspecified camp. After completing his training, Johnson was sent to Vietnam. Upon his arrival on April 8, 1966, he was assigned to A Company, 12th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division.

In June, the army began Operations Irving and Thayer to clear the North Vietnam Army from Binh Dinh Province, and Johnson found himself in the thick of the fighting. The 1st Cavalry's Internet history recalls that,
“In the opening phases of Operation "Thayer I," enemy elements of the 7th and 8th battalions, 18th North Vietnamese Army Regiment had been reported in the village of Hoa Hoi [Binh Dinh Province]. The 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, in the face of strong heavy resistance, deployed to encircle the village. On 02 October, B Company was the first to be air assaulted into the landing area 300 meters east of the village. Immediately, the units came under intense small arms and mortar fire. A Company landed to the southwest and began a movement northeast to the village. In the meantime, C Company landed north of the village and began moving south. By this time A and B Companies had linked up and established positions which prevent the enemy from slipping out of the village during the night. [The12th Cav remained in that area until approximately December 27th.]”

During the fighting that ensued on December 17, 1966, Specialist Fourth Class Ronald Joe Johnson was killed by small arms fire. His body was recovered, returned to Santa Cruz and buried in Holy Cross Cemetery on Christmas Eve Day, 1966.

(CBR; VVVMW; Holy Cross Cemetery headstone; VVVW; SCSn December 19, 1966 1.3, December 22, 1966 20:6; 1st Cav History y, [16 Sept 2008])

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1960s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-JOHNSON,RO


Nelson, Robert L. “Ronald J. Johnson (1966/12/17).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. Accessed 19 May 2024.