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Ardon Thomas (Tom) Johnson World War II collection

Ardon Thomas (Tom) Johnson World War II Collection

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Open Finding Aid

Finding aid for the Ardon Thomas (Tom) Johnson World War II Collection


Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
100 Rock Street
Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201
(501) 320-5700

Repository: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Creator:Johnson, Ardon Thomas, 1922-
Title: Ardon Thomas (Tom) Johnson World War II Collection
Dates: 2007-2009
Quantity: 0.21 Linear feet
Abstract:This small collection contains autobiographical materials on Ardon Thomas Johnson, pilot and photographer.
Identification: MSS.09.22
Language: English


The collection is arranged topically in one box.

Scope and Contents

This small collection contains print material and digitally reproduced materials on CD about and by Ardon Thomas Johnson, pilot and photographer.

Biographical Note

Johnson and his twin brother, Ardon William Johnson, were born September 28, 1922, at Paxton, Illinois. Their parents were Charles Lewis and Lillian Atcheson Johnson. Charles Johnson was a carpenter who sometimes moved around to find work. The family lived in Hoopeston, Illinois and Hammond, Indiana for a time before returning to Paxton.

Lillian Johnson died when the twins were seven years old. Because of their father's alcoholism, the boys were taken in by their aunt and uncle, Josephine (Jose) and Bill Johnson, who lived in Hoopeston, Illinois. They lived with their aunt and uncle off and on until they were fifteen. Because of financial hardships, they spent two years in an orphanage and one year at a reform school. At the age of fifteen, Tom and Bill went to live with their father, who eventually overcame his problem with alcohol.

Tom Johnson joined the United States Army Air Corps on May 17, 1941, at age seventeen. He was assigned to the 106th Observation Squadron, an Alabama Air National Guard Unit which had been called into federal service in November 1940. Tom had developed an intense interest in airplanes and flying while still a child, and had also learned photography at an early age. His skills in these areas led to assignment to the photographic section, where he did work in aerial photography, film developing, and mapmaking.

In early 1942, Tom's aunt Jose suggested to her friend Nelle Mae Johnson (no relation) in Little Rock, Arkansas that her daughter, Bettye might write to Tom to keep up his morale. Bettye soon started writing to Tom, who was stationed at various bases on the East Coast of the United States at the time. In August 1943, before being sent to the Philippines, Tom took a furlough. Before going home to visit his father in Illinois, he went to Little Rock to meet Bettye and her family. Tom and Bettye became engaged after his three-day visit.

Tom was discharged from the army on October 6, 1945. He and Bettye married on October 15, 1945. Tom worked for several employers in Little Rock, including a stint as cameraman for KARK Channel Four and eleven years with KTHV Channel Eleven. He also worked for the Arkansas State Hospital as audio-visual training director.

Tom Johnson retired in 1985, at age sixty-two. Since that time he has stayed busy with his aviation and photography interests, volunteering his expertise in service to his community, and also writing about his experiences.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Air pilots, Military.
Alabama. Air National Guard.
Johnson, Ardon Thomas, 1922-


Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Restrictions on Use

Non-circulating, in-house use only.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Ardon Thomas (Tom) Johnson World War II Collection, MSS 09-22, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute

Acquisition Information

Donated by Ardon Thomas (Tom) Johnson, 2009

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