“Just as the heroes of 9/11 were being celebrated, my beloved decided he would join them and accept his wings!” Frankie Johnson
Born October 1, 1946, Carl S. Johnson, affectionately known by many as “JJ”, was a native of De Ridder, Louisiana. He was the son of Beatrice Merritt and Joe Johnson. He attended George Washington Carver Elementary School from 1st through 5th grades. He then attended Holy Rosary Institute in Lafayette, Louisiana, graduating in 1964. After graduation, he studied and graduated from Commonwealth College of Mortuary Science (Houston, Texas), receiving a degree in Mortuary Science, with certifications as an embalmer and funeral director. Shortly after graduation from Commonwealth, JJ was drafted and began his career in the United States Army in January 1966.
In the Army, JJ served in every enlisted position (E1-E9). His duties were many and varied to include: Supply Sergeant, Cadre/Drill Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant, AMEDD Instructor, First Sergeant, Hospital Sergeant Major, Troop Command Sergeant Major (Brigade Sergeant Major).
A critical time during JJ’s military career revolved around his tour of duty in Vietnam. He was shot in the right arm by the enemy. The bullet traveled from his arm and lodged in his back, very close to his spine. Because of the threat of paralysis, this bullet was never removed.
Due to the injuries sustained in Vietnam, JJ spent months in the hospital and endured numerous surgeries. In March 1968, then Sergeant Johnson, was authorized to salute left-handed as a result of wounds received in combat, thus making him the only soldier in the U.S. Army to have such an authorization in his era.
JJ relocated to his hometown of De Ridder, Louisiana and re-enlisted into the US Army at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Shortly after his re-enlistment, he was assigned to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. During his visits back home, he began dating Frankie, who at that time was a student at Grambling State University. A true “hometown” romance evolved and on December 21, 1968, JJ and Frankie were married. To this union, the couple was blessed with three unique, talented and loving children.
After 26 years of military service and having achieved the highest possible enlisted rank, Command Sergeant Major Carl “JJ’ Johnson made the decision to retire. At this point, his military assignments included: *Ft Polk, Louisiana, *Viet Nam, *Ft. Sam Houston, *Germany, (two terms-Aschaffenburg and Heidelberg), *Ft. Eustis, Virginia, *Hawaii-Tripler Army Medical Center.
Awards Received: Silver Star; Purple Heart; Good Conduct Medal; Gallantry Cross; Vietnam Service Medal; Combat Medic Badge; Vietnam Service Medal; Medical order of Military Merit.
Understanding that education was the key to success after retirement, JJ completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Wayland Baptist University.
JJ’s employment after retirement included the following: *Cemetery Representative (Department of Veterans Affairs at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery); *District Command Sergeant Major (ROTC-San Antonio Independent School District).
Although the Army and other employment obligations consumed much of JJ’s time, he carved out time to officiate basketball, volleyball and boxing. He officiated basketball for over 35 years, to include AAU, high school and college. He was the first Black president of the local basketball chapter. In boxing, he officiated such notables as Little Dan “Red’ Lopez, Tommie “Hitman” Hearns, Larry Holmes, “Sweetpea” Whitaker and local favorites, the Ayala Brothers.
Being the grandson of a Baptist preacher and the son of a “prayer-leading'' mother, JJ grew up in a faith-filled home. After his grandfather’s death, the family became devoted members of Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church in De Ridder. JJ’s church home in San Antonio was Second Baptist Church where he was faithful and active as a sound system operator and a member of the Male Chorus. He also enjoyed working with the Second Baptist Center Committee.
One of the greatest joys of JJ’s life (other than being a husband, father and grandfather) was becoming a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. In his 24 years as a member, with Frankie in tow, he attended all district meetings, conclaves, and everything in between. In Psi Alpha Chapter, he served as the Keeper of Peace and Protocol Chair. On the district level, he served as Chair of Protocol for the following District Representatives: *Brother Todd Clemons (2004-2007, *Brother Willie “Mercenary” Hinchen (2007-2010), *Brother Shawn Brewer (2010-2012), *Brother Ernest Parquet (2012-2015), *Brother Dr. Kenneth Terrell (2015-2018),* Brother Patrick B. Smith (2018-2020).
In 2018, JJ received the Ninth District’s “Superior Service Award”. In 2019, he was recognized with a plaque from Brother Harold Bailey, 1st Vice 9th District Representative,” In recognition and sincere appreciation of many years of distinguished service as Ninth District Protocol Chairman”.
JJ could always count on Brother John Cooper and Brother Greg Thompson to get him into “Good Omega Trouble”…Involvement!!
On any given Monday, Thursday and Saturday, JJ could be found at one of the area golf courses. He was a member of San Antonio Minority Golf Association and River City Golf Association.
Many San Antonians remember JJ’s strutting horse, Shelly. The two rode in many parades, most often participating with the Bexar County Buffalo Soldiers where he was a member for over twenty years.
For the past few years, JJ was given the opportunity to volunteer at Lewis Funeral Home. Thanks to Mrs. Lois Washington, owner and pillar in the community, JJ was able to utilize some of his mortuary skills and work with a great team at the funeral home. This brought him great joy.
The whistle has blown! No more parades, no more tallying golf scores, JJ has said his last goodbye!! He departed this life on September 11, 2020 and went to meet departed family, referees, golf buddies and old special friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Beatrice Merritt and Joe Johnson; step parents, Milton and Mable Bryant and his brother, William T. McGhee.
He leaves to cherish his memory his devoted wife, Frankie, of 18,876 days; sons, JJ Johnson (Austin, TX); Kerwin (Christine) Johnson (Schertz, TX); daughter, Jade Johnson Mayfield (Schertz, TX);
Sisters: Sharon Bryant (Houston, TX); Dell Merritt Smart (Atlanta, GA); Anna Marie Bryant Evans (Houston, TX); Emma Bryant Marbley (Houston, TX)
Grandchildren: Ayana Cenobia Johnson (Willingboro, NJ); Neesa Grace Johnson (San Antonio, TX); Jonah Maddox Johnson (Schertz, TX) Londyn Grace Johnson (Schertz, TX); Phoenix Carter Johnson(Austin, TX); AND a host of relatives, (in laws, nieces, nephews) friends and fraternity brothers. Others who will miss that big smile are: Sarah Needham Johnson; Cordy Meza; Turner (Barbara) McGarity; and his favorite Deltas (Connie, Jovitta, Mimi and Vida).
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