Colonel Howard Rondal “Ron” Johnson passed away March 8, 2017
Colonel Howard Rondal “Ron” Johnson left to be with the Lord on the 8th of March, 2017. He was born July 7, 1936 to the late Howard and Alma Johnson in Jonesboro, Ar. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Heber Springs where he served as Deacon, caring for widows, serving faithfully for many years in the Prayer Room and as a Sunday School teacher. He was preceded in death by his wife Geraldine “Jerri” Johnson with whom he had one daughter Rosemarie (Johnson) Didier and husband Mike, one son Clifton Marcus Johnson and wife Christie. He is known as “Papa” to his ten grandchildren; Tiffany Marie Arnold and husband Mike, Captain Jeremy Michael Didier, and wife Amber, Sara Marie (Johnson) Messick and husband LaDon, Hannah Renee (Johnson) Birdwell and husband Jackson, Adam Marcus Johnson, Mary Faith Johnson, Sydney Decker, Taylor Robertson, Sean and Larysa Payne. He is a great grandfather to Lilly Beth, Carter, Shepard, Bryce, Brynn, and Evangeline. Rondal is survived by his wife, Susan Elizabeth “Suzi” Johnson, of Heber Springs.
Colonel Johnson graduated from Blytheville High School before entering the Army. Upon completion of two years in the army he separated from active duty but remained in U.S. Army Reserves. At that time he entered Memphis State University and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geography and a regular commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force in 1960. He continued his education and received a Master of Arts Degree in Geography (Asian Studies) from Syracuse University. Upon commissioning, he attended navigator training and Electronic Warfare Officer training.
After serving three tours of duty in the Vietnam War and 97 combat missions in Southeast Asia as a B-52 crew member (navigator) and over 1000 combat flying hours, he returned to Offutt AFB as an Air Targets Intelligence Officer on the Strategic Air Command’s Airborne Command Post. He flew many missions in B-52’s around Russia carrying nuclear weapons during the Cold War. He later graduated from the Air War College at Montgomery Air Force Base and then served in the Pentagon. The family moved many times during his thirty year career. Each transfer was rewarded with a higher ranking until he reached his goal of Colonel. He concluded his 30 year career as Deputy Director for Studies and Analysis, Joint Electronic Warfare Center, Kelly AFB in San Antonio, Texas. He commented often he never considered the Air Force as a job, but his “calling.”
He received many awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medals, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, and the Army of Occupation Medal (Germany).
During his career he found time for fun and hobbies. Over the years he enjoyed camping and RVing with his family. He was most fond of his Airstreams, which reminded him of airplanes. He enjoyed growing vegetables, always wanting the next crop to be the best. He even raised St. Bernard dogs, with Ben winning him best of show in Grand Island, Nebraska. If that wasn’t enough, he enjoyed many hours turning wood into treasures in his wood shop, and riding his motorcycle.
He will forever be remembered as kind, soft hearted and devoted to his family. He is dearly missed by his loved ones and friends, who celebrate the fact that he is at peace with his creator.
Visitation and funeral services were Saturday, March 11, 2017 at Heber Springs Funeral Home Chapel. Interment with full military honors will be conducted 11:00 am, March 27, 2017 at Veterans Cemetery in North Little, Arkansas. Heber Springs Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Online obit: www.heberspringsfuneralhome.com