Raymond T. Johnson
Courtesy of his niece, Bonnie L. Roth
Raymond T. Johnson, 82, of Allentown, passed away Thursday, April 16, 2009 in the Inpatient Lehigh Valley Hospice Unit. Born in Allentown on August 14, 1926, he was the son of the late Raymond Johnson Sr. and Helen Smith.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1943 at the age of 17 and saw a year of action in the Pacific during WWII. His WWII experiences are featured in “Typhoon of Steel: The Battle of Okinawa” which devotes a chapter to the role of his ship, the USS Laffey, in the Battle for Okinawa. During the battle for Okinawa, he served aboard the USS Laffey, also known as “The Ship That Would Not Die,” a destroyer assigned to the dangerous mission of acting as a radar picket to warn of the approach of Kamikazes, Japanese suicide planes, to the Okinawa beachhead.
The Laffey encountered forty Kamikazes. He and his shipmates shot down twenty-two in the morning-long action, breaking the main strength of the third general suicide attack aimed at Okinawa. Five enemy pilots managed to hit the ship, badly damaging it, but he and other crewmen overcame fires, flooding and other damage to bring the Laffey to a safe anchorage. He was recalled to duty and served again during the Korean War.
He worked for Western Electric after the war and, in 1956, he began his own business, Champion Aluminum Products in Emmaus, PA. Upon retiring, he worked in grounds maintenance at Saucon Valley Country Club and, later, as a Crossing Guard at Catasauqua Road for the City of Bethlehem.
Raymond was a member of Asbury Methodist Church. He was a member of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon, serving as Grand Tall Cedar in 1993 and raising thousands of dollars for Muscular Dystrophy through his charitable efforts. Raymond was also a member of Greenleaf Masons Lodge 561 Free & Accepted Masons of Allentown.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia Grace (Gerhard) Johnson. Survivors: daughters, Susan I. Albertson of Allentown, PA, and Carole R. Shugart of Catasauqua, PA; son, David E. Johnson and his wife Diane of Whitehall, PA; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren; sister, Phyllis Maurer of Coopersburg, PA; companion, Betty Walter of Allentown, PA, and her children, 5 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.
Services: Visitation will be Monday, April 20, from 9:30-10:30 AM in the Long Funeral Home, 500 Linden St, Bethlehem, followed by a Masonic Service at 10:30 AM. Funeral services will begin at 10:45 AM in the funeral home. Online condolences may be made at www.longfuneralhome.com
Contributions: in lieu of flowers, to Muscular Dystrophy Association, 5940 Hamilton Blvd, Suite F, Allentown, PA 18106.
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