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Check Six: Kurt Johnson

May 2, 2022
Photograph captured off the Ulu Ulu video

Kurt Johnson was a distinguished member of the 199th Fighter Squadron, and the Hawai‘i Air National Guard.

Kurt joined the Air Force in 1951. After his commissioning and receiving his pilot wings, he flew North American F-86E Sabres during the Korean War. He left the Air Force in 1955 and joined the Hawai‘i Air National Guard the same month.

During his 29-year HIANG flying career, he flew North American F-86s, Convair F-102 Delta Daggers, and McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantoms. During the Vietnam War, he was one of the 199 FS pilots who volunteered to participate in Palace Alert.

During his career, he designed many things that remain part of the 199th Fighter Squadron today. 

He designed the 199th Fighter Squadron logo, which was approved in 1951.

During the F-102 era, he designed the Hawaiian pattern tail flash that the HIANG, which reflect the mountains, volcanos, primary islands, and ocean channels. 

In the F-4C era, he gave each assigned aircraft the name of the Hawaiian bird. 

His fini flight was on June 23, 1984. Col. John “Saigon” Lee, who was the 154th Composite Group commander, wrote this about Kurt in his monthly newsletter column.

“In the flying arena, we were respectful of the “soft touch” he had flying any aircraft. He was as patient and understanding as any top flying instructor that we have known. He retains his distinguished title in the fighter squadron as a “fighter jock” … I don’t believe there is anyone as current and proficient as a fighter pilot at age 55 as Kurt.”

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Yesterday’s Star-Advertiser featured an article about Eddie Kamae and a new website that features his music with the Sons of Hawaii musical group. Imbedded in the website are two links to an 1994 interview of Kurt Johnson talking about Eddie Kamae’s music.

While Kurt is not talking about flying, it is a refreshing memory of Kurt and his calm demeanor we all remember.

Interview with Kurt Johnson recorded on October 1, 1994 for the documentary “The History of the Sons of Hawaiʻi.” Colonel Kurt Johnson, a member of the 199th Fighter Squadron and the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard remembers hanging out at the Sandbox with about ten other pilots and mechanics from his squadron listening to the Sons of Hawaiʻi. Johnson speaks of each member of the Sons of Hawaiʻi. He recalls his mother saying about Gabby Pahinui, “… his voice is quintessentially Hawaiian.” Johnson also recalls his introductions of Eddie Kamae to Mary Kawena Pūkuʻi and Pilahi Paki, who became two of Eddie Kamae’s kumu (teachers).

Interview with Kurt Johnson 10/1/94 tape 1

Interview with Kurt Johnson 10/1/94 tape 2

From → History

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