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Sam Johnson

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Subject: Village pump (policy)/Archive 50, Paul Ryan, United States congressional delegations from Texas, Steve Bartlett, United States House of Representatives elections in Texas, 2002
Collection: 1930 Births, American Methodists, American Military Personnel of the Korean War, American Military Personnel of the Vietnam War, American Prisoners of War, American Torture Victims, Living People, Members of the United States House of Representatives from Texas, People from Dallas, Texas, People from Plano, Texas, Recipients of the Air Medal, Recipients of the Bronze Star Medal, Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross (United States), Recipients of the Legion of Merit, Recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, Recipients of the Silver Star, Republican Party Members of the United States House of Representatives, Shot-Down Aviators, Texas Republicans, United States Air Force Officers, United States Air Force Thunderbirds Pilots, Vietnam War Prisoners of War
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Sam Johnson

Sam Johnson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 3rd district
Assumed office
May 8, 1991
Preceded by Steve Bartlett
Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
Assumed office
October 29, 2015
Preceded by Paul Ryan
Personal details
Born (1930-10-11) October 11, 1930
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Shirley Johnson
Alma mater Southern Methodist University
George Washington University
Religion Methodism
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Military career
Service/branch  United States Air Force
Years of service 1950–1979
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War
Awards Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star with "V" Device
Purple Heart (2)
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal (4)
Prisoner of War Medal

Samuel Robert "Sam" Johnson (born October 11, 1930) is the U.S. Representative for Texas's 3rd congressional district serving in Congress since 1991. He is a member of the Republican Party. The district includes much of Collin County, including Plano, where he lives. He is the acting Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means where he also serves as chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee.

Johnson is also a retired United States Air Force Colonel and was a decorated fighter pilot in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War where in the latter he was a prisoner of war for nearly seven years.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Military career 2
    • POW 2.1
    • Decorations and awards 2.2
  • Post-military career 3
  • U.S. House of Representatives 4
    • Elections 4.1
    • Tenure 4.2
    • Committee assignments 4.3
    • Caucus memberships 4.4
  • Personal life 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life and education

Johnson grew up in Dallas and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School.[1] Johnson graduated from Southern Methodist University in his hometown in 1951, with a degree in business administration. While at SMU, Johnson joined the Delta Chi social fraternity as well as the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.[2]

Military career

Johnson served a 29-year career in the United States Air Force, where he served as director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School and flew the F-100 Super Sabre with the Air Force Thunderbirds precision flying demonstration team. He commanded the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead AFB, Florida and an air division at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, retiring as a Colonel.[3]

He is a combat veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars as a fighter pilot. During the Korean War, he flew 62 combat missions in the F-86 Sabre and shot down one Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. During the Vietnam War, Johnson flew the F-4 Phantom II.


On April 16, 1966, while flying his 25th combat mission in Vietnam, he was shot down over North Vietnam and suffered a broken arm and back. He was a prisoner of war for nearly seven years, including 42 months in solitary confinement. During this period, he was repeatedly tortured.

Johnson was part of a group of 11 prisoners known as the Alcatraz Gang, a group of prisoners separated from other captives for their resistance to their captors. They were held in "Alcatraz", a special facility about one mile away from the Hỏa Lò Prison, notably nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton". Johnson, like the others, was kept in solitary confinement, locked nightly in irons in a windowless 3-by-9-foot concrete cell with the light on around the clock.[4][5][6][7][8]

Johnson was released on February 12, 1973 during Operation Homecoming. Johnson recounted the details of his POW experience in his autobiography, Captive Warriors.

He walks with a noticeable limp, due to a wartime injury.

Decorations and awards

Johnson's military awards include:

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Silver star
Silver star
Bronze star
1st Row Silver Star with oak leaf cluster Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster Distinguished Flying Cross
2nd Row Bronze Star with "V" Device Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster Meritorious Serice Medal Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters
3rd Row Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster Presidential Unit Citation Prisoner of War Medal Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with "V" Device and 2 oak leaf clusters
4th Row Korean Service Medal with 2 campaign stars Vietnam Service Medal with 16 campaign stars United Nations Service Medal Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Post-military career

After his military career, he established a homebuilding business in Plano. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1984 and was re-elected four times.

In 1990, Johnson was inducted into the Woodrow Wilson High School Hall of Fame.

In October 2009, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society rewarded Johnson the National Patriot Award, the Society's highest civilian award given to Americans who exemplify patriotism and strive to better the nation.[9]

U.S. House of Representatives


On May 8, 1991, he was elected to the House in a special election brought about by eight-year incumbent Steve Bartlett's resignation to become mayor of Dallas. Johnson defeated fellow conservative Republican Thomas Pauken, also of Dallas, 24,004 (52.6 percent) to 21,647 (47.4 percent).[10]

Johnson thereafter won a full term in 1992 and has been reelected nine times. The 3rd has been in Republican hands since 1968. The Democrats did not even field a candidate in 1992, 1994, 1998, or 2004.


Johnson ran unopposed by the Democratic Party in his district in the 2004 election. Paul Jenkins, an independent, and James Vessels, a member of the Libertarian Party ran against Johnson. Johnson won overwhelmingly in a highly Republican district. Johnson garnered 86% of the vote (178,099), while Jenkins earned 8% (16,850) and Vessels 6% (13,204).


Johnson ran for re-election in 2006, defeating his opponent Robert Edward Johnson in the Republican primary, 85 to 15 percent.[11][12]

In the general election, Johnson faced Democrat Dan Dodd and Libertarian Christopher J. Claytor. Both Dodd and Claytor are West Point graduates. Dodd served two tours of duty in Vietnam [13] and Claytor served in Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait in 1992. [2] It was only the fourth time that Johnson had faced Democratic opposition.

Johnson retained his seat, taking 62.5% of the vote, while Democrat Dodd received 34.9% and Libertarian Claytor received 2.6%. However, this was far less than in years past, when Johnson won by margins of 80 percent or more.


Johnson retained his seat in the House of Representatives by defeating the Democrat Tom Daley and Libertarian nominee Christopher J. Claytor in the 2008 general election. He won with 60 percent of the vote, an unusually low total for such a heavily Republican district.[11]


Johnson won re-election with 66.3% of the vote against Democrat John Lingenfelder (31.3%) and Libertarian Christopher Claytor (2.4%).[14]


Johnson handily won re-nomination to his thirteenth term, twelfth full term, in the U.S. House in the Republican primary held on March 4. He polled 30,943 votes (80.5 percent); two challengers, Josh Loveless and Harry Pierce, held the remaining combined 19.5 percent of the votes cast.[15]


In the House, Johnson is an ardent conservative. By some views, Johnson had the most conservative record in the House for three consecutive years, opposing pork barrel projects of all kinds, voting for more IRAs and against extending unemployment benefits. The conservative watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste has consistently rated him as being friendly to taxpayers. Johnson is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[16]

Johnson is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, and joined Dan Burton, Ernest Istook and John Doolittle in refounding it in 1994 after Newt Gingrich pulled its funding. He alternated as chairman with the other three co-founders from 1994 to 1999, and served as sole chairman from 2000 to 2001.

On the Ways and Means Committee, he was an early advocate and, then, sponsor of the successful repeal in 2000 of the earnings limit for Social Security recipients. He proposed the Good Samaritan Tax Act to permit corporations to take a tax deduction for charitable giving of food. He chairs the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations, where he has encouraged small business owners to expand their pension and [17] benefits for employees.

Johnson is a skeptic of calls for increased government regulation related to global warming whenever such government interference would, in his mind, restrict personal liberties or damage economic growth and American competitiveness in the market place. He also opposes calls for government intervention in the name of energy reform if such reform would hamper the market and or place undue burdens on individuals seeking to earn decent wages. He has expressed his belief that the Earth has untapped sources of fuel, and has called for allowing additional drilling for oil in Alaska.

Johnson is one of two Vietnam-era POWs still serving in Congress, along with John McCain.[18]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Personal life

Johnson is married to the former Shirley L. Melton, of Dallas. They are parents of three children and have ten grandchildren.


  • 1992, Captive Warriors: A Vietnam P.O.W.'s Story; ISBN 0-89096-496-3

See also


  1. ^ U.S. Congress.Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: Sam Johnson
  2. ^ Rotunda Yearbook. Dallas, Texas: Southern Methodist University. 1951. p. 284. 
  3. ^ "U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson : Serving the 3rd District of Texas". Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  4. ^ Adams, Lorraine. Years As Pow"12"Perot's Interim Partner Spent 7, Dallas Morning News, March 11, 1992. Accessed July 2, 2008. "He was one of the Alcatraz Gang – a group of 11 prisoners of war who were separated because they were leaders of the prisoners' resistance."
  5. ^ Rochester, Stuart; and Kiley, Frederick. "Honor Bound: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1961–1973", 2007, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1-59114-738-7, via Google Books, p. 326. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
  6. ^ The Virginian-Pilot, March 26, 1996.
  7. ^ Johnston, Laurie (December 18, 1974). "Notes on People, Mao Meets Mobutu in China".   Dec 18, 1974
  8. ^ Kimberlin, Joanne (2008-11-11). "Our POWs: Locked up for 6 years, he unlocked a spirit inside". The Virginian Pilot (Landmark Communications). pp. 12–13. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  9. ^ "Congressional Medal of Honor Society selects Sam Johnson for its National Patriot Award | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Texas Politics | The Dallas Morning News". 2009-10-03. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  10. ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections 6th ed., Washington, D.C., 2010, p. 1341
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^ "News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Dallas-Fort Worth Politics | The Dallas Morning News". 2006-03-08. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Texas Election Results 2010". New York Times. 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-15. 
  15. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014". Retrieved March 6, 2014. 
  16. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List" (PDF). Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Bill Summary & Status – 109th Congress (2005–2006) – H.R.525 – THOMAS (Library of Congress)". 2005-07-27. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  18. ^ Catalina Camia (14 March 2013). "McCain marks 40th anniversary of POW release". Army Times. USA Today. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Steve Bartlett
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Paul Ryan
Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee

Succeeded by
Chairman of the Joint Taxation Committee

Party political offices
Preceded by
Dan Burton
Chairman of the Republican Study Committee
Served alongside: Dan Burton, John Doolittle, Ernest Istook
Succeeded by
David McIntosh
Preceded by
David McIntosh
Chairman of the Republican Study Committee
Succeeded by
John Shadegg
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Maxine Waters
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Jerrold Nadler
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