Lennel K. Johnson, 70, Marine Corps sergeant

November 24, 2002

Lennel K. Johnson, a retired Marine Corps master sergeant and recruiter, died of complications from diabetes Tuesday at the Loch Raven Veterans Rehabilitation Center. The Ingleside resident was 70.

Born in Baltimore and raised on North Mount Street, he was a 1950 Frederick Douglass High School graduate. As a young man, he worked as a grocery store clerk.

Known as Sarge, he served in the Marine Corps for 20 years. He first enlisted in 1951 and was sent to Korea.

He left military service in 1955 and became a postal worker and Harbor Tunnel traffic monitor before re-enlisting in 1958. He then served through the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam War, in which he had three tours of duty. As a master sergeant, he was the noncommissioned officer in charge of a recruiting substation in Highlandtown until 1974, when he retired. He then became a Baltimore City school police officer.

Among his many military honors, he received the Korean Service Medal with three stars, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, a Combat Action Ribbon, the Air Medal "for meritorious achievement in combat aerial flight," the National Defense Service Medal and the Vietnam Service Medal with four stars.

Family members said Sergeant Johnson enjoyed mentoring young men. He ran basketball games at Roland Park Middle School and neighborhood car washes.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. today at the Church of God, 4310 Edmondson Ave., where he was a member and where he was honored last year for his role in church youth activities.

He is survived by the former Harriette Coates, his wife of nearly 49 years; two sons, Lennel K. Johnson Jr. of Baltimore and Lennard Johnson of Randallstown; two daughters, Dionne V. Smith of Upper Marlboro and Lynnette V. Smith of Centreville, Va.; a sister, Elaine J. Coates of Edgewater; 19 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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