Walter Leland Johnson
Walter Leland Johnson passed away on July 1, 2021, in Santa Barbara, California at the age of 98. He was born in Caldwell, Ohio on December 22, 1922, to Walter and Elizabeth Springer Johnson. He lived in Caldwell until December 1942 when he enlisted in the US Army at Fort Thomas, Kentucky. He served stateside until deployed to Guam in the summer of 1945. After WWII ended, he joined the Army Reserve and returned to a civilian job.
Early in 1948, he was drawn back to active duty in the Army and was promoted to Staff Sargent.
Shortly after the Korean War broke out, Walt enlisted in the newly formed U.S. Air Force with the Rank of Airman. It was during these years that Walt made his first trip to Japan. There he received training in Special Investigations and was promoted to Master Sargent.
Having learned to speak Japanese, Walt was sent to Japan for a year and enjoyed the Japanese culture. He collected and treasured beautiful works of Japanese art. Before his next assignment he was sent to the Air Force of Special Investigations (OSI) for additional education. He applied his new expertise on his assignment in Cleveland, Ohio for the next 2 years.
In 1961, Walt was sent to Chicago. There he met and married the love of his life, Kristi Marie Salm, who had emigrated from Estonia. After 4 years in Chicago, Walt was sent to Tan San Nut, Vietnam for a one year tour (his third major conflict). After his service in Vietnam, Walt was given orders to Vandenburg AFB in California for his final tour of duty. His investigative focus was on counter intelligence and criminal violations.
After his military discharge, he and Kristi settled in Santa Barbara where they both went to work for Santa Barbara County County; Walt in the Court system and Kristi became the County Auditor-Controller. They had more then 30 years together, taking wonderful trips, raising orchids, and making wooden toys for the Unity Shop. Sadly, Kristi died in 1994. Walt carried on, comforted by his loving family.
Walt was truly an honored member of the “Greatest Generation”. He was awarded the following medals/ribbons: American Theater Ribbon, WWII Victory Ribbon, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, National Defense Medal.
Walt was predeceased by his brother, Jim Johnson and his sister Erma Clem.
He is survived by nieces: Dawn Carol Rhome, Marianne Amspaugh (Doug), Leisa (Jeff), Meredith.
A heartfelt thanks to Walt’s loving Caregivers, Carolyn, Mia, Reni, Michael and his loyal friends Bonnie and Stan, who each spent happy times with Walt.
He will be missed by dear friends, Marilyn and her husband Jack, Walt’s toy making partner.
Much appreciation to the care given by Santa Barbara Complete Care and Abundant Care.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Walt’s name can be made to any Veteran Charities of your choice.