Samuel Robert Johnson (born October 11, 1930) is an American politician who served as the U.S. Representative for Texas's 3rd congressional district in Congress from 1991 to 2019. He is a member of the Republican Party. In October–November 2015, he was the acting Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, where he also served as chairman of the Social Security Subcommittee.

Sam Johnson
Sam Johnson, official 109th Congress photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 3rd district
In office
May 8, 1991 – January 3, 2019
Preceded bySteve Bartlett
Succeeded byVan Taylor
Acting Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee
In office
October 29, 2015 – November 5, 2015
Preceded byPaul Ryan
Succeeded byKevin Brady
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 60th district
In office
January 8, 1985 – May 21, 1991
Preceded byFrank Eikenburg
Succeeded byBrian McCall
Personal details
Samuel Robert Johnson

(1930-10-11) October 11, 1930 (age 89)
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Shirley Melton
(m. 1950; died 2015)
EducationSouthern Methodist University (BBA)
George Washington University (MS)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Air Force
Years of service1950–1979
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit51st Fighter Interceptor Wing
8th Tactical Fighter Wing
Commands31st Tactical Fighter Wing
Battles/warsKorean War
Vietnam War
AwardsSilver Star (2)
Legion of Merit (3)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star with valor
Purple Heart (2)
Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal (4)
Prisoner of War Medal

Johnson is also a retired United States Air Force Colonel and was a decorated fighter pilot in both the Korean War and the Vietnam War where in the latter he was an American prisoner of war in North Vietnam for nearly seven years. On January 6, 2017, Johnson announced he would not run for reelection in 2018.[1] After the death of Louise Slaughter in March 2018, he became the oldest sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the last Korean War veteran to serve in Congress.[2]

Early life and educationEdit

Born October 11, 1930, Johnson grew up in Dallas and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1947.[3] Johnson graduated from Southern Methodist University in his hometown in 1951, with a bachelor's degree in business administration. While at SMU, Johnson joined the Delta Chi social fraternity as well as the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity.[4] He attained a master's degree from the Elliott School of International Affairs of the George Washington University in 1976.

Military careerEdit

Johnson in flight school in 1951
Johnson as a First Lieutenant in 1957

Johnson served a 29-year career in the United States Air Force, where he served as director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School and flew the F-100 Super Sabre with the Air Force Thunderbirds precision flying demonstration team. He commanded the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at Homestead AFB, Florida and an air division at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, retiring as a colonel. One of his classmates in flight school was future astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The two remained longlife friends.[5][6]

He is a combat veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam Wars as a fighter pilot. During the Korean War, he flew 62 combat missions in the F-86 Sabre and shot down one Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15. During the Vietnam War, Johnson flew the F-4 Phantom II.


On April 16, 1966, while flying his 25th combat mission in Vietnam, he was shot down over North Vietnam and suffered a broken arm and back. He was a prisoner of war for nearly seven years, including 42 months in solitary confinement. During this period, he was repeatedly tortured.

Johnson was part of a group of eleven U.S. military prisoners known as the Alcatraz Gang, a group of prisoners separated from other captives for their resistance to their captors. They were held in "Alcatraz", a special facility about one mile away from the Hỏa Lò Prison, notably nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton". Johnson, like the others, was kept in solitary confinement, locked nightly in irons in a windowless 3-by-9-foot concrete cell with the light on around the clock.[7][8][9][10][11] Johnson was released on February 12, 1973 during Operation Homecoming. Johnson recounted the details of his POW experience in his autobiography, Captive Warriors.

In 2018, Johnson donated objects related to his imprisonment to the collection of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.[12]

He walks with a noticeable limp, due to a wartime injury.[13]

Post-military careerEdit

After his military career, he established a homebuilding business in Plano. He was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1984 and was re-elected four times.[citation needed]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

Johnson and Dick Cheney in 2001
Sam and Shirley Johnson with Governor Rick Perry in 2003
Johnson greeting Oliver North in 2006
Johnson with fellow POW John McCain in 2016

On May 8, 1991, he was elected to the U.S. House in a special election brought about by eight-year incumbent Steve Bartlett's resignation to become mayor of Dallas. Johnson defeated fellow conservative Republican Thomas Pauken, also of Dallas, 24,004 (52.6 percent) to 21,647 (47.4 percent).[14] The district's character remained unchanged after it lost its remaining share of Dallas County in the 2010s round of redistricting.



Johnson ran unopposed by the Democratic Party in his district in the 2004 election. Paul Jenkins, an independent, and James Vessels, a member of the Libertarian Party ran against Johnson. Johnson won overwhelmingly in a highly Republican district. Johnson garnered 86% of the vote (178,099), while Jenkins earned 8% (16,850) and Vessels 6% (13,204).


Johnson ran for re-election in 2006, defeating his opponent Robert Edward Johnson in the Republican primary, 85 to 15 percent.[15][16]

In the general election, Johnson faced Democrat Dan Dodd and Libertarian Christopher J. Claytor. Both Dodd and Claytor are West Point graduates. Dodd served two tours of duty in Vietnam[17] and Claytor served in Operation Southern Watch in Kuwait in 1992. [1] It was only the fourth time that Johnson had faced Democratic opposition.

Johnson retained his seat, taking 62.5% of the vote, while Democrat Dodd received 34.9% and Libertarian Claytor received 2.6%. However, this was far less than in years past, when Johnson won by margins of 80 percent or more.


Johnson retained his seat in the House of Representatives by defeating the Democrat Tom Daley and Libertarian nominee Christopher J. Claytor in the 2008 general election. He won with 60 percent of the vote, an unusually low total for such a heavily Republican district.[15]


Johnson won re-election with 66.3 percent of the vote against Democrat John Lingenfelder (31.3 percent) and Libertarian Christopher Claytor (2.4 percent).[18]


Johnson handily won re-nomination to his 12th full term, twelfth full term, in the U.S. House in the Republican primary held on March 4. He polled 30,943 votes (80.5 percent); two challengers, Josh Loveless and Harry Pierce, held the remaining combined 19.5 percent of the votes cast.[19]


Johnson won reelection to his 13th full term in the general election held on November 8, 2016. With 193,684 votes (61.2 percent), he defeated the Democrat Adam P. Bell, who polled 109,420 (34.6 percent). Scott Jameson and Paul Blair, the nominees of the Libertarian and Green parties, polled 10,448 votes (3.3 percent) and 2,915 (0.92 percent), respectively.[20]


Three days after being sworn in for his 14th term overall and his 13th full term, Johnson announced he would not run for reelection.[1]


In the House, Johnson is an ardent conservative. By some views, Johnson had the most conservative record in the House for three consecutive years, opposing pork barrel projects of all kinds, voting for more IRAs and against extending unemployment benefits. The conservative watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste has consistently rated him as being friendly to taxpayers. Johnson is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform's Taxpayer Protection Pledge.[21]

Johnson is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee,[22] and joined Dan Burton, Ernest Istook and John Doolittle in refounding it in 1994 after Newt Gingrich pulled its funding. He alternated as chairman with the other three co-founders from 1994 to 1999, and served as sole chairman from 2000-01.[citation needed]

On the Ways and Means Committee, he was an early advocate and, then, sponsor of the successful repeal in 2000 of the earnings limit for Social Security recipients. He proposed the Good Samaritan Tax Act to allow corporations to take a tax deduction for charitable giving of food. He chairs the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations, where he has encouraged small business owners to expand their pension and[23] benefits for employees. In December 2016, Johnson introduced H.R. 6489, a bill that would decrease Social Security payments to retired individuals and require individuals to wait two additional years in order to qualify for full retirement payments.[24][25]

Johnson opposes calls for government intervention in the name of energy reform if such reform would hamper the market and or place undue burdens on individuals seeking to earn decent wages. He has called for allowing additional drilling for oil in Alaska.[citation needed]

After the death of John McCain, Johnson became the only Vietnam-era prisoner of war serving in Congress.[26]

Net NeutralityEdit

In December 2017, Johnson signed a letter from Congress (along with 106 other Congress members) to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai supporting his plan to repeal net neutrality ahead of the commission's vote.[27]

Committee assignmentsEdit

Caucus membershipsEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Johnson was married to former Shirley L. Melton of Dallas from 1950 until her death on December 3, 2015.[29] They are the parents of three children and ten grandchildren.

Military awardsEdit

Other awards and honorsEdit


  • 1992, Captive Warriors: A Vietnam P.O.W.'s Story; ISBN 0-89096-496-3


  1. ^ a b Scott Bland; Kyle Cheney (2017-01-06). "Texas Rep. Sam Johnson announces he won't run for reelection". Politico.
  2. ^ "With McCain's Death, Carper Is Senate's Only Vietnam Veteran". Bloomberg Government. 2018-08-26. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  3. ^ U.S. Congress.Biographical Directory of the United States Congress: Sam Johnson
  4. ^ Rotunda Yearbook. Dallas, Texas: Southern Methodist University. 1951. p. 284.
  5. ^ "BUZZ" (PDF). AIR FORCE Magazine.
  6. ^ "U.S. Congressman Sam Johnson : Serving the 3rd District of Texas". Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  7. ^ Adams, Lorraine. "Perot's Interim Partner Spent 7​12 Years As Pow", Dallas Morning News, March 11, 1992. Accessed July 2, 2008. "He was one of the Alcatraz Gang – a group of 11 prisoners of war who were separated because they were leaders of the prisoners' resistance."
  8. ^ Rochester, Stuart; and Kiley, Frederick. "Honor Bound: American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia, 1961–1973", 2007, Naval Institute Press; ISBN 1-59114-738-7, via Google Books, p. 326. Retrieved July 8, 2008.
  9. ^ Stockdale, James B. "George Coker for Beach Schools", letter to The Virginian-Pilot, March 26, 1996.
  10. ^ Johnston, Laurie (December 18, 1974). "Notes on People, Mao Meets Mobutu in China". The New York Times. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  11. ^ Kimberlin, Joanne (2008-11-11). "Our POWs: Locked up for 6 years, he unlocked a spirit inside". The Virginian Pilot. Landmark Communications. pp. 12–13. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
  12. ^ "Advisory: Smithsonian Accepts Congressman Sam Johnson's POW Possessions; Tin Cup, Toothpaste From Vietnam War Join National Museum of American History's Collections - Newsdesk". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  13. ^ "A touching tribute: McCain's former Vietnam cellmate Republican Rep. Sam Johnson honors his friend". MSN. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  14. ^ Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections 6th ed., Washington, D.C., 2010, p. 1341
  15. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-02-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Dallas-Fort Worth Politics | The Dallas Morning News". 2006-03-08. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-06-21. Retrieved 2006-05-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Texas Election Results 2010". The New York Times. 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
  19. ^ "Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014". Texas Secretary of State. Archived from the original on March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 6, 2014.
  20. ^ "Election Results". Texas Secretary of State. November 8, 2016. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  21. ^ "The Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers 112th Congressional List" (PDF). Americans for Tax Reform. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  22. ^ "Member List". Republican Study Committee. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  23. ^ "Bill Summary & Status – 109th Congress (2005–2006) – H.R.525 – THOMAS (Library of Congress)". 2005-07-27. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  24. ^ Wolff-Mann, Ethan. "GOP introduces plan to massively cut Social Security". Yahoo Finance. December 9, 2016.
  25. ^ "H.R.6489: To preserve Social Security for generations to come, reward work, and improve retirement security". United States Congress. December 8, 2016; retrieved December 12, 2016.
  26. ^ Catalina Camia (March 14, 2013). "McCain marks 40th anniversary of POW release". Army Times. USA Today. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  27. ^ "Letter to the FCC on Restoring Internet Freedom". ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE. 2017-12-13. Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  28. ^ "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  29. ^ "Congressman Sam Johnson on the passing of wife, Shirley Melton Johnson". Congressman Sam Johnson. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  30. ^ "Veteran Tributes". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  31. ^ "Congressional Medal of Honor Society selects Sam Johnson for its National Patriot Award | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Texas Politics | The Dallas Morning News". 2009-10-03. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
  32. ^ "Sam Johnson -". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  33. ^ "Sam Johnson Awarded Inaugural Bipartisan Congressional Patriot Award". Congressman Sam Johnson. 16 March 2016. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  34. ^ report, Staff. "U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson honored with Patriot Award at Dallas Military Foundation Gala". Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  35. ^ Sprekelmeyer, Linda, editor. These We Honor: The International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Donning Co. Publishers, 2006. ISBN 978-1-57864-397-4.

External linksEdit