Former Texas Rep. Sam Johnson dies at 89

Greg Nash

Former Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), a Vietnam war veteran, died Wednesday. He was 89. 

Johnson flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars and went on to serve more than two decades in Congress. A family spokesperson told The Texas Tribune Johnson died in Plano. 

Texas Republicans and Johnson’s former colleagues honored the veteran Wednesday upon the news of his death. 

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, called the former congressman a “true American hero.”

“From the skies over North Korea to the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ to the Halls of Congress, America has known few patriots as great as Sam Johnson. A lifelong Texan and a dear friend, Sam was a true American hero,” Brady said in a statement. 

In 2016, lawmakers dedicated a Ways and Means hearing room in the Rayburn House office building as the “Sam Johnson Room” to honor the longtime lawmaker. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday Johnson was a “fearless patriot” and “true Texas icon.” 

“Congressman Johnson dedicated his life to our nation and the state of Texas. He bravely served as a fighter pilot in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and his profound sacrifice is something Texans will never forget,” Abbott said in a statement

“Today, we mourn the loss of a great Texan, but we also remember his tremendous life and the legacy he leaves behind,” he continued. “Cecilia and I offer our prayers to his family and friends, and we ask all Texans to join us in remembering a true Texas icon.”

Rep. Van Taylor, the Republican who now serves the district Johnson served for 13 terms, called his predecessor a “real life legend,” noting the seven years Johnson was a prisoner of war. 

“Sam Johnson was a legend – a real life legend. He spent nearly 7 years as a POW – but never broke and never wavered in his commitment to his country. He was the embodiment of an American hero and I’m blessed to have known Sam. Today, we mourn the passing of a true hero,” Taylor tweeted.

Johnson served seven years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi Hilton during his second tour in Vietnam, where he shared a cell with the late former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). 

In 2015 Johnson criticized President Trump, then a presidential candidate, for mocking McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War. 

“When Trump said ‘I like people who weren’t captured,’ that’s just one more slap in the face to ALL FAITHFUL American POWs, whether it’s Louis Zamperini, Jim Stockdale, or your own quiet family member who doesn’t like to relive those days of torture,” Johnson said in a statement to The Hill at the time.

Tags Donald Trump John McCain John McCain Kevin Brady Military Sam Johnson Sam Johnson Van Taylor Vietnam War

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