A hundred years ago, on Oct. 5, 1912, Clayton Forsling Johnson was born in a farmhouse in north-central Kansas.
Clayton lived in the farmhouse where he was born, farmed with his dad, took care of his siblings, and graduated from Glasco High School in 1930. His intentions were to be a Kansas farmer like his father, Perry. However, the Great Depression and the Midwest drought and dust bowl of the 1930s led Clayton to join the U.S. Navy in 1934.
He attended the Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago. His 37-year naval career took him from an E-1 seaman recruit to an E-7 chief petty officer (yeoman), and to an O-5 officer as a commander.
His duty stations included: submarines S42 and Salmon; submarine bases and squadrons in New London, Conn., Key West, Fla., San Diego/Long Beach, Calif., Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Scotland; Submarine School New London and Naval Postgraduate School Monterey, Calif.; and various commands in the Washington, D.C., area.
Of course, most know he was at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Clayton met his future wife to be (Nadine Hamilton) while on leave in Kansas. They decided to marry and eloped, and were wed in Topeka in 1939.
Their four children were born at various duty stations: Claydene in 1940 in Long Beach (now of Bellingham), Thomas in 1947 in New London, Cheryl in 1950 in Key West and Jay in 1958 in Bethesda, Md.
Clayton and Nadine would say their children were born from "coast to coast and southern most," and I guess Jay was the afterthought.
After Clayton's second Navy retirement (the first was in 1964) in 1971 after 37 years of naval service, he managed the Chevy Case Woman's Club. He and Nadine bought a motor home and travelled until he left this world in 1976. We still miss him today.
- Claydene Johnson Lederer/Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald
Reach DEAN KAHN at email@example.com or call 715-2291.