Biography of Robert Barnes Johnson
Lt., Co Commander, Camp Van Etten, New York & Camp Selkirk, Selkirk Shores State Park, New York
Col., CO, ROTC Training, USA, WWII
I am the son of Robert Barnes Johnson, d. 1973, who was an Army lieutenannt serving in CCC camps in western NY State in the 1930's on EAD. He later served in WWII as a colonel running Army Reserve training (ROTC).
Robert Barnes Johnson was born on April 13, 1900. He married Olyve Cole Eckler Johnson, who was born March 16, 1899. They were married on August 20, 1920. They were both from small towns near Rochester, New York. His father was an insurance executive, hers was an owner of several farms. Both came from pioneer stock, Olyve from the Puritans of Plymouth, Mass. In 1633, and he from the Whitfields, famous Methodist preachers of England.
There was one child, myself, Franklyn Arthur Johnson.
My father served as an enlisted man in the 6th Marine Division in WWI, then in the Florida National Guard and the Organized Reserve as a sergeant, then commissioned as a second lieutenant. He served in Florida as an Immigration Border Patrol Inspector in the 1930's.
He was a 1st Lieutenant at the start of WWII, assistant professor of Military Science at Rutgers University, and in other educational posts. He headed the military training education program as Commandant at the Long Island College of Medicine.
His work in the CCC was, so far as I recall, limited to two camps, at Selkirk Shores State Park, Pulaski, NY, and Van Etten, NY, near Syracuse. We then lived in one of the rental houses at Selkirk and I attended Pulaski Academy, then Riverside Military Academy in Georgia and Florida. Riverside called him as a Lieutenant Colonel to bring back their Honor School rating in 1945-1947, he serving there as Commandant. He then went to the Pentagon as liason officer for all ROTC units in the Army. He later earned a bachelor's degree in history at the University of Rochester, 1960, and a master's degree in education at Stetson University, 1965.
He was an outstanding rifle and pistol shot, participating in many Florida National Guard and Reserve Corps state and national championships.
My mother, Olyve Eckler Johnson, served in the Civil Air Patrol, part of the Army Air Corps, during WWII. She was adjutant of the New Jersey Wing, held a commercial license for over twenty years, and also a license as a parachute rigger. After WWII she was Director of Flight Training at Riverside, then the nation's largets military academy. She was a member of various women's flight organizations, and the Daughters of the American Revolution.
My father retired to the desert town of Hemet in Southern California after my mother's death on December 19, 1963, and married Katherine Law Stage, a widow, in 1966. They became very active in such groups as the Sons of the American Revolution, Retired Officers Association, and the Pilgrim Congregational Church of Hemet.
My father passed away on July 28, 1973.
I have Dad's master's thesis (Steton Univ, 1965) entitled "The CCC and American Youth Education" (32 pages and bibliography). I have no anecdotal meterials, only memory of his serving at the camps at Van Etten and especially Selkirk Shores State Park, NY.
By coincidence I served as national Director of the Job Corps under LBJ.
----- Prepared by Franklyn A. Johnson, March 3, 2001
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