Bertrand Ellwood Johnson was born in West Plains, Mo., in 1902. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor of arts degree in l924. He attended Harvard Law School from 1924 to 1926, and then worked in law offices in Boston. In 1929 he graduated from the University of Oklahoma law School with a bachelor of laws degree and then practiced law in Tulsa, Okla. In November 1930 he became assistant city attorney for Tulsa, and served until January 1935 when he became judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Tulsa, which office he held for seven years.
Appointed a second lieutenant in the Field Artillery Reserve in April 1932, General Johnson received a commission in the Judge Advocate General Reserve as a captain in February l935. In January 1942, the general went on extended active duty as a major with the Judge Advocate General's Department and entered the JAG School at National University, Washington, D.C. After completing the officer refresher course there in March, he became assistant to the judge advocate of Base Section I of the Services of Supply in the China-Burma-India, theater, later serving as judge advocate of the Services of Supply. Remaining in the China theater, General Johnson was named judge advocate of the 14th Air Force in December 1943.
Transferred to Mitchel Field, N.Y., in June 1945, General Johnson was appointed judge advocate of the First Air Force, becoming judge advocate of the Air Defense Command there upon its activation in March 1946, and later staff judge advocate. Receiving his regular commission in the Judge Advocate General's Department in July 1946, General Johnson transferred to the Air Force in November l947. A year later he was named assistant judge advocate general for Civil Law of the U.S. Air Force and in February 1949, assumed the additional duty as chairman, Judicial Council, Office of the Judge Advocate General.
Ordered to the Far East Air Forces at Tokyo, Japan, in March 1953, the general was appointed judge advocate general for FEAF. Joining the Air Training Command on Aug. 1, 1956, General Johnson assumed duties as judge advocate general at ATC headquarters, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., remaining in the same capacity when Training Command headquarters moved to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas on Sept. 3, 1957.
General Johnson has been awarded the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters.
(Up to date as of August 1956)
(Obituary from Oct. 19, 1983 San Antonio Express)
Bertrand E. Johnson of San Antonio had been the seventh in a family of 12 children who grew up in the high energy atmosphere of boomtown Tulsa, Okla, shortly after statehood.
Success was all around them, and they were never expected to do anything but be successful too, said his brother, Dwight L. Johnson of Coronodo, Calif.
Dwight became an admiral, Bert became a general and the family produced three attorneys, a physician, a banker and an engineer.
"There was never any pressure on us whatsoever," the admiral said. "But I felt - and believe my brother did too - that we were a large family and we all would do well. We just did, and that's all. We were expected to, I guess."
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Johnson, 81, died Sunday, leaving only three survivors of the family which once numbered 14. The former judge advocate general of Air Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base will be buried with full military honors Friday at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.
Johnson was born in 1902, in West Plains, Mo., but was taken to Tulsa in 1911 by his father, a man of modest means.
His parents never stressed success, though all but two of their children graduated from college, his brother said. He said a sense of competition between his brothers and sisters drove them.
Bertrand Johnson did undergraduate work at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, attended Harvard Law School and returned to university where he earned his law degree.
He had been in the Army Reserves and a judge in the court of common pleas in Tulsa when he was called to active duty as a cavalry major at the outbreak of World War II.
Stationed in India during the war, he was called back to civilian duty by a Roosevelt administration appointment as a judge of extraterritorial rights cases in China. He then rejoined the military as a colonel and returned to the states in 1945 shortly before the end of the war.
He also was a veteran of Korea and had been assistant judge advocate general of the Air Force for Civil Affairs in Washington. At Randolph Air Force Base he retired in 1961 following a heart attack.
He had been a member of the San Antonio Bar Association and the Texas Bar Association.