Robert and Shirley Allen Johnson
Robert Johnson, along with his friend Bobby Boon, joined the Arkansas National Guard unit in Marianna Arkansas and became part of the 206th Coast Artillery Band. At the time the possibility of a war seemed remote and aside from basic training the Guard seemed to offer an opportunity to improve his play on their instruments. Much to their surprise both Johnson and Boon were activated in January 1941, the Guard federalized and sent to Alaska where they would remain for the duration of the war. At Dutch Harbor, and later on Amchitka, Johnson and Boon would be part of the 206th Medical Detachment and band. Learn more about the bombing of Dutch Harbor, what it was like to live and work in the Aleutians and more by reading Robert Johnson’s diary and Stephanie Johnson Dixon’s story entitled “What Daddy (And Mother) Did in the War” to learn more about the people and places in the photographs.
Shirley Allen (later Shirley Johnson) wanted to contribute to the war effort and put off going to college to do so. She made her way to Memphis and found work at the Army Depot, a 642 acre complex handling food and supplies for the troops and even served as a prisoner of war camp at one point. Shirley worked as an office clerk. After working long enough to put together a small nest egg Shirley set off for college at the University of Oklahoma. Her story accompanies that of her husband Robert Johnson in “What Daddy (And Mother) Did in the War.”
Did You Know?
A PBY plane piloted by Lt. Jean Cusick was sent from Dutch Harbor, on June 3, 1942, to locate Japanese forces in the Pacific. He was shot down by enemy fighters en route. Five men out of the seven-man crew survived the crash and got into life rafts. Cusick and his enlisted pilot died on the rafts from their wounds. The other three were captured by the Japanese, and became the first prisoners of war in the Aleutian Campaign.