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Oliver Kenneth Johnson

PFC in 406th Engineer Combat Co.

ASN#38441479 Casualty: Wounded

Born 1923 in TX, Died 2005

County of residence at enlistment: Doña Ana County, NM
Other residence(s): Roby, TX; McCaulley, TX; Hatch, NM; Deming, NM
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: ranch farmer
Notes: Added to database 5 July 2023; received Purple Heart after being wounded in Luxembourg on January 22, 1945 (may not have been attached to the 406th at that point)
Source: Letter from George Rebh 6 March 1947; confirmed by mention that he trained at Fort Meade, went overseas in May 1944, and participated in four of the five GA campaigns; photo courtesy Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 13, 1945

Oliver Johnson was born on May 8, 1923 in McCaulley, TX, the second of five children. His father was a farm laborer. Oliver left school after the fifth grade and went to work on the farm.

When he registered for the draft, on June 30, 1942, he was living in Roby, TX and working for Frank Wright. He enlisted on July 15, 1943, at which time he was working on a ranch in Hatch, NM. He became a truck driver and was active in the 406th Engineer Combat Company for at least part of his military service. (He trained at Fort Meade, MD, and a newspaper article shows him going abroad in May, 1944, when the rest of the Ghost Army went overseas.)

He was wounded in action in Luxembourg on January 22, 1945; a newspaper article from the time reports that "he was in action in France, Belgium, and then back into France as a truck driver. He had recently been assigned to a replacement pool." It is not clear from these reports, and the fact that he is listed in Captain Rebh's post-war 406th newsletter as a 406th veteran, what unit he was part of at the time he was wounded, or whether he may have joined the 406th later on. He participated in four of the five campaigns in which the Ghost Army participated.

His brother Floyd (or possibly Lloyd) was also in the Army in World War II, and was wounded while fighting in France.

Oliver was discharged from the Army on October 27, 1945 with the rank of PFC and returned to New Mexico. By 1949 he was working as an auto mechanic at JB Williams Motor Company in Deming. He married Velma Freeman on August 20, 1949; they would go on to have five children: Lonnie, Jerry, Larry, Doris, and Linda. During his career, Oliver worked as a mechanic, a welder, a carpenter, and a factory foreman. He was also an avid gardener, and enjoyed fishing and playing music.

He died on September 3, 2005 in Deming, and is buried at Mountain View Cemetery there.


1930 census

1940 census

1942 draft card

1945 article in the Abilene Reporter-News (TX) re his being wounded

1945 article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX) about his purple heart (includes photo)

1945 New Mexico World War II Records

1949 wedding announcement in The Deming Headlight (NM),0.66926575,0.7253611,0.7758664&xid=3398&_ga=2.4057399.620291311.1688830563-649954658.1687568396

1950 census

2005 Social Security Applications and Claims Index

2005 Find a Grave record*1p2sczg*_gcl_au*Njk5Njk3NDc1LjE2ODc1NjgzOTU.*_ga*NjQ5OTU0NjU4LjE2ODc1NjgzOTY.*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*Nzc3ODlhMTUtOWQwNC00MzA0LTk2ZjYtNTdjOTQ3NGNkZjIwLjQ3LjEuMTY4ODgzMzcxMC4xMS4wLjA.

2005 obituary in The Deming Headlight (NM)

2005 VA death record

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