U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds to honor prior Pilot, Congressman over Dallas


Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. – The United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” will perform a ceremonial flyover during the memorial service for U.S. Air Force Colonel (ret.) Samuel Johnson over Dallas, Texas, June 8, 2020.

The formation will feature six Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft, soaring over the memorial service.

Col. Johnson led a distinguished career as a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot from 1950 to 1979 including an assignment as a Thunderbird slot pilot from 1957 to 1958.

During his Air Force career, he served as the director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School, commanded 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead Air Force Base and flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. On his 25th combat mission over Vietnam, Johnson’s F-4 Phantom II was shot down and he spent seven years as a prisoner of war, including 42 months in solitary confinement. After his release, Johnson returned to his home state of Texas and served as a Congressman for 28 years.

”It is a solemn honor to perform this flyover for our fallen Thunderbird brother,” said Lt. Col John Caldwell, Thunderbirds Commander and Leader. “Col Johnson’s story reminds us that today’s Airmen stand on the shoulders of incredible servicemen. This flyover commemorates his contributions  to the rich heritage of our squadron and Air Force.”

Residents near the flight path can expect a few seconds of jet noise as the aircraft pass overhead.