Carson City senior earns top honors

Ed Johnson of Carson City has received the Disabled American Veteran of the Year Award for the state of Nevada. He received the award at the DAV, Department of Nevada State Convention recently held in Laughlin.

The award is given annually to a DAV member who has given of himself to the DAV and veterans. Johnson is a member of the DAV Carson City Chapter No. 7.

"I was very happy with getting the award," Johnson said. "I think it's the most prestigious award the DAV gives out."

He won the same award while living in Wisconsin in 1995.

"Wisconsin has about 20,000 DAV members. There are only about 5,200 in Nevada. We're pretty sure I'm the only person to have won this award twice, because you can only win it once from each state."

Johnson, 69, was born and raised in Black River Falls, Wisc. He joined the Air Force in 1952, getting his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, and was stationed at Scott AFB in Illinois.

Johnson only spent three years in the Air Force due to a freak accident in 1953, which caused him to lose his lower left leg.

"I was walking along the highway on base when some sergeant got drunk and ran me over with his car. It threw me about 50-60 feet. I thought I felt OK and was going to get up but I noticed my foot was on my chest. And I thought, 'That's not good.' "

The accident happened near the end of the Korean War. Johnson said the Air Force was overstaffed and ordered no one with a disability could stay in. So he was let go with a pension.

Johnson worked for 35 years as office manager for a chain of cheese factories. After retiring, he moved to Carson City in 1995 and has been active with the Carson City chapter from day one.

He has been senior vice commander one year, commander three years and adjutant-treasurer four years. On the state level, he served five years on the finance committee, three years on service commission and one year as state commander.

Johnson has been a driver of the DAV transportation van since 1996, carrying vets from Douglas County and Carson City to the Veterans Association Medical Center in Reno. He's logged more than 2,000 hours and 20,000 miles and has been van coordinator for the past four years.

He has also helped with fund-raising efforts to buy a 2002, 15-passenger van for this area.

"It's a very rewarding job," Johnson said. "So many vets don't have a way to get to the hospital. When I get them home, they're all thanking me."

Johnson, who is married to Dee, has three sons -- Michael, Randy and David, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He said his disability doesn't slow his efforts down a bit.

"It only slows down my walking," he said, with a twinkle in his eye.


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