Veteran To Honor His Fallen High School Classmates
Of the seven young men who went to fight in Vietnam from R. L. Turner High School class of 1967 in Carrollton, Texas, Michael Johnson was the only one to come back.
“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know why I was home,” Johnson said.
Dustin Meeks, Thomas Dotson, Larry Kirkland, Dixon Hunt, Jerry Fraze, and John Roberts.
He faced even more pain on his first night back in the U.S.. Johnson had been proud of his service and his awards, but that very evening a friend told him to take off his uniform and forget about the war because no one wanted to hear about it. So Johnson did as he was told: he stopped talking about his time in Vietnam. Using the GI Bill he completed his degree at the University of Texas. He started a long and successful career with the fire department because the work resembled the military. But all along, Johnson never forgot his friends; Dustin Meeks, Thomas Dotson, Larry Kirkland, Dixon Hunt, Jerry Fraze, and John Roberts.
“I started going to these funerals,” Johnson said. “I thought, ‘How do these families feel? They’re burying their sons for something that we can’t even talk about?’”
Johnson became interested in Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund only years later, as he saw service members returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He saw airports full of people welcoming the troops home and he wondered why they weren’t there to support his friends returning from Vietnam.
Johnson is eager to see the Education Center at The Wall open its doors on the National Mall and to remind people of the scarifies of his generation and of the current generation. As part of our Faces Never Forgotten program, he is leading a personal fundraising campaign in honor of his six classmates and he took it upon himself to collect a photo for each of the men. We hope to have a photo for each name on The Wall, to be displayed in the Education Center. Johnson has made a tremendous effort to get the students and teachers of R. L. Turner High School involved in his campaign; many of the kids have donated.
“If I had the means, I would give enough to build it,” Johnson said. “I don’t. But I’m doing what I can.”