Paul Johnson was born on April 28, 1958, in Gadsden, Alabama. He entered Officer Training School on January 2, 1985, and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force at Lackland AFB, Texas, on May 21, 1985. Lt Johnson next completed Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laughlin AFB, Texas, in June 1986, and A-10 Thunderbolt II upgrade training in February 1987. His first assignment was as an A-10 pilot with the 353rd Fighter Squadron at Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina, where he served from February 1987 to September 1991. During this time he flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm from January to March 1991. Capt Johnson's next assignment was as an instructor pilot at the USAF Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada, from October 1991 to June 1995. He next attended Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from July 1995 to June 1996, and then served as a staff officer at Headquarters European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, from June 1996 to June 1999. After re-qualifying in the A-10, Col Johnson served as Chief of Safety for the 23rd Fighter Group at Pope AFB, North Carolina, from September 1999 to April 2000. He was then assigned as Operations Officer and then Commander of the 75th Fighter Squadron, also at Pope, where he served from April 2000 to April 2002. Johnson then attended Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 2002 to June 2003, and then served on the faculty staff from June 2003 to July 2004. He then transferred to Eielson AFB, Alaska, where he served as the Commander of the 354th Operations Group from July 2004 to July 2006. Col Johnson was then assigned as Director for Colonels Management at Headquarters USAF in the Pentagon from July 2006 to March 2007, followed by duty as Executive Officer to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force at the Pentagon, from March 2007 to July 2008. His next assignment was as commander of the 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, from July 2008 to July 2010, and then as Commander of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, from July 2010 to July 2011. Gen Johnson served as Deputy U.S. Military Representative to NATO in Brussels, Belgium, from August 2011 to August 2013, and he is currently serving as Director of Operational Capability Requirements with the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon. Gen Johnson is a Command Pilot with over 3,000 flying hours in the A-10.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Paul T. Johnson, Captain, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as an A-10 Pilot with the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, during Operation DESERT STORM on 21 January 1991. On that date, Captain Johnson was the flight lead on Sandy 57, a two-ship of A-10s tasked for search and rescue alert at a forward operating location. While en route, he received tasking to look for an F-14 crew that had been shot down the night before. During the next six hours he would lead his flight through three aerial refuelings, one attack on a possible SCUD missile site, and three hours of intensive searching deeper inside enemy territory than any A-10 had ever been. He risked his life as he had to fly at a mere 500 feet in order to pinpoint the survivor's location. When an enemy truck appeared to be heading toward his survivor, Captain Johnson directed his flight to destroy it, thus securing the rescue. It was his superior airmanship and his masterful techniques at orchestration that made this rescue happen - the first in the history of the A-10 weapons system. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Captain Johnson reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.