Letter of Reference
James E “Johnny” Johnson
After retiring from the military, Johnson was appointed director of the California Department of Veteran Affairs by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan. He was the first black American to hold a California cabinet-level appointment.
Johnson went right on shocking people. President Richard Nixon named Johnson assistant secretary of the Navy in 1971; at that time, the highest military post ever held by a black American. Johnson went on to become an adviser to President Gerald Ford, as well.
Johnson epitomizes the type of role model we want for our youth. Holding eight educational degrees, he was a man of strong faith, committed to his family, community and nation. He has spent a lifetime rising above all expectations and, along the way, giving back to his community and country.