Clifton Reed Johnson, 68, chemical expert for Army

July 25, 2004

Lt. Col. Clifton Reed Johnson, a decorated career Army officer, Green Beret and chemical weapons expert, died of heart failure July 18 at Perry Point Veterans Hospital. He was 68 and lived in Bel Air.

Born in Baltimore, Colonel Johnson was a 1953 graduate of Carver High School in Towson. He earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 1957 from what was then Morgan State College and his master's degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1959.

He enlisted in the Army in 1957 and, after serving in Korea, was assigned to Fort Detrick near Frederick. As a Green Beret, he was later assigned as a chemical officer to the Special Forces at Fort Bragg, N.C.

During the late 1960s, he saw combat in Vietnam while serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

During his career, Mr. Johnson was executive officer at the Army's Chemical Research and Development Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where he was also chief of the chemical ground support training department. He later was chief of the chemical and biological division at the Army Ordnance Center.

After holding numerous positions at other military installations in Indiana, Hawaii, Virginia and New Jersey, Mr. Johnson returned to Edgewood Research and Development Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, where he was chief of staff until retiring in 1986.

Mr. Johnson's decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Army Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.

Mr. Johnson was a communicant and choir member of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Joppatowne, where services were held yesterday. He will be interred with military honors at 2 p.m. Aug. 9 at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mr. Johnson is survived by his wife of 45 years, the former Janis E. M. Chew; two sons, Anthony L. Johnson of Perry Hall and Mark C. Johnson of Delray Beach, Fla.; a daughter, Valaria R. Johnson of Edgewood; two brothers, Clarence Johnson of Perry Hall and the Rev. Bernard Johnson of Shalimar, Fla.; and seven grandchildren.

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