Title: Army Air Corps 2nd Lieutenant, World War II
Birthdate: January 23, 1918
Death Date: August 13, 1943
Plot Location: Section 43, Lot 9
Alex, as he was known, had the name given to both his uncle and his grandfather, an Irish veteran of the Civil War. Both men, like Alex’s father, William, made their profession as exterior painters; Alexander Sr. was a house painter his entire life (his “Notable” life story can be found here). Alexander Jr. painted buildings as well as houses, and William was employed as a painter by the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Alex had four sisters and a brother, Stephen, who was six years younger. After high school, Alex worked at a flower farm in New Jersey. He registered for the draft in October, 1940 but decided he’d have more options if he enlisted, which he did four months later. Many enlistees reasoned that it would be safer in the air than on the ground, so he trained to be a pilot in the Army Air Corps, and eventually made it to 2nd Lieutenant.
In the spring of 1943, on leave in New Jersey, he married Margaret Helen Pearson and brought her to where he was stationed, at Portland Army Air Base in Oregon. They had been there only two months when he lost his life in a collision with another aircraft, as described in this local newspaper account.
The search team found his body in a wooded area north of Vancouver, Washington. His death was within a month of his father losing an 18-month battle with prostate cancer. Cemetery records show Alex’s ashes were buried here on August 21, becoming the fourth generation of Johnstons on the family obelisk. His brother Stephen also joined the Army Air Corps and died accidentally. His “Notable” life story can be found here.
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