14 IS Airmen perform funeral honors for WWII vet

  • Published
  • By Stacy Vaughn
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Three 14th Intelligence Squadron reservists conducted funeral honors for one of their own Oct. 23, 2021. John “Jerry” Johnson passed away Oct. 19 at the age of 98 and had served in Guam during World War II with the Army Air Corps in the 20th Air Force 9th Photographic Technical Squadron. His squadron ultimately became the 14 IS.

Former 14 IS commander Lt. Col. (retired) Dianne Hickey, Maj. Andrew Soine and Senior Master Sgt. Jonathon Washington conducted the funeral honors after receiving training from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard so they knew what to do to pay the proper honors.

Hickey served as the officer in charge at Johnson’s funeral.

“Jerry was a sweet soul and a true patriot who had a love of his country and of history.  It was fitting and poetic that the 14th Intelligence Squadron could reciprocate by honoring him at his funeral, recognizing his patriotism and service to the country he loved so much,” Hickey said.

The funeral home reached out to Hickey and said Johnson’s request was to have the 14th Intelligence Squadron conduct the military honors at his funeral.

“He told me four years ago that he wanted the 14th Intelligence Squadron to conduct the military honors at his funeral, but he was healthy and was just planning for “someday”.  When the funeral home contacted me and said his request was to have the 14th Intelligence Squadron conduct the military honors at his funeral, I reached out to the (655th ISR) Group and asked if I could participate.”

14 IS personnel were told the squadron’s history dates back to the Army Air Corps 9th Photographic Technical Squadron. After doing some research, Hickey found someone who had served in the unit, Johnson, and invited him to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio in 2016. The squadron became acquainted with him during the visit and he shared with them his collection of memorabilia and photos from his service in Guam.

Johnson’s unit processed official military photographs showing the damage from the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945. The photos taken showed the two areas before and after the bombs fell and provided battle damage assessments.

Soine and Washington never met Jerry; they arrived to the unit after his visit to the squadron.

“I am impressed and thankful that they volunteered for this duty and ensured the proper respect and dignified ceremony were granted to Jerry. Jerry’s friends, family and long-time associates were able to see the respect given to this patriot,” Hickey said.

Washington said since Johnson answered the call for us many years ago, it was simply our turn to answer his call. He played Taps during the service.

“In the Airman’s Creed, we can read the words, ‘I am faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor, and a legacy of valor.’ Those words come into focus as you look at the aerial film developed by Sergeant Johnson and the 9th Photo Technical Squadron.  They served in a remarkable time in our nation’s history,” Washington said. “I’m grateful that I, alongside Lt. Col. Dianne Hickey and Maj. Andrew Soine, could represent the men and women of the 14th Intelligence Squadron in seeing one of our own to his final resting place.”