John Vincent Johnston of Cincinnati, Ohio, entered the Navy in September 1861 as First Master in gunboat St. Louis. He assisted in the Union gunboat attacks that captured strategic Fort Henry on the Tennessee River 6 February 1862. The night of 1 April 1862 he was the Navy commander of a combined Army-Navy boat expedition from St. Louis which landed and spiked the guns of Fort No. 1 above the Confederate stronghold, Island No. 10. He was promoted to Acting Volunteer Lieutenant for gallantry in this expedition. After joining in the bombardments of Vicksburg, he took command of Forrest Rose to patrol the Mississippi and its tributaries. On 15 February 1864 his gunboat repelled the attack of confederate raiders, saving the town of Waterproof, La., and its federal garrison. Lt. Johnston resigned from the naval service 23 June 1864 and died 23 April 1912 at St. Louis, Mo.
(DD-821: dp. 2,425; l. 390'6"; b. 41'1"; dr. 18'6"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 367; a. 6 5", 12 40mm., 8 20 mm., 5 21" tt, 6 dcp., 2 dct; cl. Gearing)
The second Johnston (DD-821) was laid down 26 March 1945 by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex.; launched 10 October 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Marie S. Klinger; grandniece of Lt. J. V. Johnston; and commissioned 23 August 1946, Cmdr. E. C. Long in command.
After shakedown in the Caribbean, Johnston reported to Newport, R.I., 16 May 1947 for duty with the Atlantic Fleet. Operating out of Newport, her home port, she sailed 9 February 1948 for Northern Europe where she visited ports in Great Britain, France, and Scandinavia before returning to Newport 26 June. For 14 months she operated along the Atlantic coast, then sailed 23 August 1949 for the Mediterranean. From then until 4 October 1961 she deployed with the mighty 6th Fleet on eight occasions and supported peace-keeping efforts in the Middle East.
While on her first Mediterranean deployment, she helped to stabilize the Adriatic Sea during the Trieste crisis; and she patrolled the coast of Greece to bolster her freedom and national security against threatened Communist domination. Johnston returned to Newport 26 January 1950. She operated out of Newport from Canada to the Caribbean until 4 June 1951 when she departed with Midshipman at sea training off Northern Europe. Following her return to Newport 28 July, she cleared the East Coast for the Mediterranean 3 September and joined the 6th Fleet in operations that carried her from French Morocco to Turkey; she then returned to home port 4 February 1952.
Johnston departed Newport 7 January 1953 for NATO operations in the North Atlantic. Before sailing for duty in the Mediterranean 16 March Johnston aided the Dutch after storms in the North Sea had caused extensive flooding in the Netherlands; her crew donated bundles of warm clothing and more than $1,200 for the storm victims. She operated in the Mediterranean until 8 May when she steamed for Newport, arriving 18 May.
After a 4-month deployment in the Mediterranean during early 1954, Johnston operated for more than 17 months along the Atlantic coast from New England to Cuba. On 5 November 1955 she steamed for maneuvers off Northern Europe, followed by another tour of duty in the Mediterranean. While operating in the eastern Mediterranean during February 1956, she patrolled off Israel and Egypt as the Middle East rumbled over the developing Suez Canal crisis. Returning to Newport 5 March, she embarked midshipmen 5 June for 2 months of at-sea training off Northern Europe, after which she resumed operations out of Newport.
Johnston sailed once again 6 May 1967 for peace-keeping operations with the 6th Fleet. Before returning to the United States 1 August she ranged the Mediterranean from Spain to Sicily on ASW barrier patrols. While at Marseilles, France, 3 July,' she helped fight a destructive blaze on board Lake Champlain (CVS-39). Steaming from Newport 3 September, she joined the mighty Atlantic Fleet for the NATO Exercise "Strike Back" in the North Atlantic. She returned to Newport 22 October, then resumed operations that sent her into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.
Returning to the North Atlantic 6 June 1959 for further NATO maneuvers, Johnston steamed to Charleston, S.C., 25 July and joined DesRon 4 for deployment to the Mediterranean. Departing Charleston 21 September, she conducted Fleet operations in the western Mediterranean; on 18 December she joined naval units from France, Italy and Spain along the French coast for a review in honor of President Eisenhower. Following patrols along the Greek coast, she departed Athens for the United States 24 March 1960, arriving Charleston 10 April.
Before deploying again to the Mediterranean, Johnston joined in NATO Exercise "Sword Thrust" during the fall of 1960; then she departed Charleston 8 March 1961 to bolster the 6th Fleet's continuing efforts to maintain peace in the Middle East. After returning to the United States 4 October, she steamed 19 November for patrol duty off the Dominican Republic. During this brief but important duty her presence did much to stabilize a situation "which had threatened to plunge the country into bitter fighting and a return of the Trujillo dictatorship."
Johnston returned to Charleston 26 November; and following coastal operations, she steamed to Boston where she underwent FRAM I overhaul from 4 January to 31 October 1962. During this time she received the latest equipment, including ASROC system and DASH facilities, to prepare her for new assignment in the modern Navy. Departing Boston 2 November, she arrived Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, via Charleston 10 December for Caribbean operations. While steaming near Mona Island 1 February 1963, she rescued crewmen from the sinking Honduran freighter Kirco and towed her to Mayaguez, P.R. Continuing her Atlantic operations, she supported Polaris missile firing tests. As Thomas Jefferson (SSB(N)-618) fired two underwater missiles off the Florida coast 14 March, Johnston became the first destroyer to serve as "primary support ship for an underwater firing of a Polaris missile."
After more than 4 months of ASW tactical operations, Johnston departed Charleston 6 August for her ninth deployment to the Mediterranean. While operating with the ever-vigilant 6th Fleet, she steamed the length and breadth of the Mediterranean and entered the Black Sea 27 September. During the cruise to Turkish Black Sea ports she served as a symbol of America's determination to safeguard peace on land through strength on the sea. Following 2 months of ASW operations, Johnston departed Cannes, France, for the United States 7 December and arrived Charleston 23 December for coastal operations through 1964.
The veteran destroyer departed Charleston 6 January 1965 for the Mediterranean to resume peace-keeping operations with forces of other NATO countries. She returned to Charleston 7 June, and devoted the rest of the year to operations with Polaris submarines, amphibious exercises, and overhaul to prepare for future service.
Johnston began New Year 1966 as sonar school training ship at Key West, Fla. During this period of training she visited Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for refresher training; and in February while Johnston's crew was spending weekend liberty at Kingston, Jamaica, her sailors swiftly answered a call for help on the 27th. The famous Myrtle Bank Hotel had caught fire and threatened the whole water front. Johnston sailors rushed to the fire and averted disaster.
Johnston operated off the East Coast until departing Charleston 29 September for Mediterranean and Middle East deployment. After operating on the far side of the Suez Canal, she again transited the Suez Canal to rejoin the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. There her exercises with this powerful deterrent force helped to stabilize the area while bringing her to peak readiness for any emergency which might threaten the peace. She returned to Charleston 9 February 1967 and operated on the East Coast through mid-year.
Ultimately stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 October 1980, ex-Johnston was sold, under terms of the Security Assistance Program, to Taiwan two months later, on 1 December 1980.
Updated, Robert J. Cressman
6 April 2021