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Bonneville Dog Tags family is found. HOTROD magazine reference.

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by sodbuster, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. sodbuster
    Joined: Oct 15, 2001
    Posts: 4,950

    from Kansas

    My pops called me tonight to say that the Bonneville Dog Tags that were in the new HOTROD magazine were on the front page of the paper. The siblings have been found in Kentucky. This is a Copy/Paste of the article incase they put it in the archives:

    Very Cool!!!
    Chris Nelson



    Things move fast at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

    Not fast like a spooked jackrabbit. Fast like a screaming rocket.

    It’s where Vanley Johnson tested the F-86 fighter jet — a variety of which set a world speed record.

    His brother, Alan, called him a “typical flyboy” who loved the Air Force and was one of the first to pilot jets.

    Johnson has childhood memories of his older sibling, when he was stationed in the East, flying over their family’s Flint Hill farm. The pilot circled, dove and waved his wings up and down when he left.

    There were 11 siblings in the family. When Vanley Johnson would come back to town, he’d drive them to Sonora basketball games and buy popcorn and Cokes.

    “For us, that was the biggest thrill in the world,” said Alan Johnson, who now lives in Rineyville.

    In 1954, Vanley Johnson was training other flyers above the desolate Utah flats when he radioed that smoke was entering the cockpit. He thought he could make it to a nearby airfield, but a wingman saw him slump over the controls. The jet went down.

    A bulldozer filled in the large crater, and the military recovered the debris. But not all of it.

    The next year, the parents and the eldest Johnson sibling put a cross up there. People have since piled remaining crash debris near the cross.

    Some racers – who rocket over the flats like Johnson did, but in land vehicles – have visited the monument. Some residents of a nearby town go there, too, Alan Johnson said.

    Roy Creel, president of the Southern California Timing Association, said he was at the Salt Flats in August for a racing event when a friend’s wife found Vanley Johnson’s bent dog tag near the cross.

    Things like this get buried in the flats and then sometimes work their way to the surface again.

    With the help of others, and by using the Internet, Creel searched for the pilot’s family.

    This was a guy who gave his life for the country, Creel said.

    With the name from the dog tag, he was able to track down the accident report, which gave him a lot of details about the crash – but not about Johnson.

    Creel also found an obituary for the 31-year-old captain in a New Mexico newspaper. It said he was from “White Hills” Kentucky, an attempt at “White Mills.”

    Then a genealogist found the Hardin County History Museum Web site, which has Johnson’s picture. And from property records and the phonebook, the search lead to Alan Johnson.

    The seven surviving siblings plan to next year rent a van and go see the cross, Johnson said.

    His Air Force brother, who is buried actually in Sonora, was a World War II and Korean War veteran.

    Vanley Johnson’s dog tag – the only one recovered – and his uniform eventually may go into the Hardin County History Museum.

    The Utah find was featured in the December issue of Hot Rod magazine.

    Creel said he plans to bring the dog tag to the family on a December trip East.

    Alan Johnson said, “We don’t know how to thank him for what he has done.”

    John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746, or at His Stories from the Heartland column runs Mondays in The News-Enterprise.
  2. OoltewahSpeedShop
    Joined: Oct 18, 2007
    Posts: 3,103


    Glad someone put forth the effort to return his dog tags to the family. I saw the article in Hot Rod and wondered what would happen.

    Ooltewah Speed Shop
  3. 4tl8ford
    Joined: Sep 1, 2004
    Posts: 1,087

    from Erie, Pa

    --that others may live.
  4. trad27
    Joined: Apr 22, 2009
    Posts: 1,108


    I saw that article, good to hear it was given to them.

  5. Hey_Pauly
    Joined: Oct 1, 2007
    Posts: 330


    That is cool.
  6. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,793


    Top shelf cool.
  7. ironandsteele
    Joined: Apr 25, 2006
    Posts: 5,308


    i saw that too. i wondered if the tags were going to make there way home or not.
    very cool.
  8. That is a very cool story. It seems that pretty often right about the time people in general begin to wear me out, I hear a story like this and feel good about people again. That pilot deserved having those dog tags returned, I'm glad to hear that it was done.
  9. speedtool
    Joined: Oct 15, 2005
    Posts: 2,541


    Thanks to all who followed through....
  10. kind of reminds me of some of the stories on here about people connecting with past loved ones thru a car and a HAMBer with a heart. Good to see someone go "out of their way" for someone they don't know, restores some of my lost faith in folks...nice.
  11. Freiburger
    Joined: Oct 30, 2005
    Posts: 95


    We've had a TON of response to that item, with people trying to lend a hand. I put it in the HRDeluxe that's about to hit the stands, too. We asked for help that's no longer needed, as Cree is headed East in December to return the tags to the family. It's an awesome story, all in all.
  12. mrdodge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2008
    Posts: 335


    Tried to visit the site while we were there last year as some of the guys over at had mentioned it. Unfortunately couldn't find it but I'm glad that his family will get his tag back. Nice end to a sad story.
  13. sololobo
    Joined: Aug 23, 2006
    Posts: 8,149


    Thanx for sharing this toching story, bravo to all who took time and energy to help this lengends family obtain this historic article. ~Sololobo~
  14. sodbuster
    Joined: Oct 15, 2001
    Posts: 4,950

    from Kansas

    David, Do you have a link to the article that was in HOTROD? It is pretty cool that they family was found.

    Chris Nelson

    QUOTE=Freiburger;4518990]We've had a TON of response to that item, with people trying to lend a hand. I put it in the HRDeluxe that's about to hit the stands, too. We asked for help that's no longer needed, as Cree is headed East in December to return the tags to the family. It's an awesome story, all in all.[/QUOTE]
  15. jroberts
    Joined: Oct 14, 2008
    Posts: 1,632


    Thanks to all who were able to reunite these dog tags with the pilot's family. This is one of the good stories that so many times do not get told.
  16. flatheadjunk
    Joined: Nov 10, 2006
    Posts: 288

    Member Emeritus
    from Orange CA

    Kinda reminds us of what's really important,huh?
  17. That's the best Bonneville story ever.
    Joined: Jun 8, 2005
    Posts: 895


    now that my friend is a good story ....that will bring good karma to all involved

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