Sam Johnson's family announced that he died in Plano on May 27, according to Reuters. Details have been slim on to what the cause of his death was. But apparently it was due to natural causes.

Johnson was in the service of the United States for nearly 60 years. That's counting both his time in the United States Air Force and in the United States House of Representatives.

In both cases, Johnson eventually reached some of the top levels. In the Air Force, he became a high-ranking and highly-decorated officer. And in Congress, he became a powerful committee chairman. But the road was decidedly not an easy one for Johnson.

But his Earthly troubles seem to have come to an end.

Born in San Antonio, Johnson graduated from high school in East Dallas, Texas. He later went on to graduate from Southern Methodist University and George Washington University.

In 1950, Johnson married Shirley Lee Melton. They would have three children. Their son, Bob, died in 2013, and Shirley died in 2015.

Served in Korea and Vietnam

Johnson also entered the Air Force in 1950. A classmate of his in-flight school was future astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who would become a longtime friend of his. Later, Johnson became a member of the famed Air Force Thunderbird precision demonstration team.

During the Korean War and Vietnam War, Johnson flew dozens of combat missions.

In Korea, he flew an F-86 Sabre, and in Vietnam, he piloted an F-4 Phantom II. In 1966, Johnson was shot down above North Vietnam. Severely injured, he was taken as a prisoner of war.

He was held in the infamous 'Hanoi Hilton' prison. Among his fellow prisoners were Jeremiah Denton and John McCain. Denton would later become a U.S.

Navy rear admiral and a Republican U.S. senator from Alabama. McCain would represent Arizona in the U.S. House and Senate. In 2008, he was the Republican presidential nominee.

As Politico notes, despite their shared background, Johnson and McCain often butted head in Congress. Johnson belonged to the conservative wing of the Republican Party, while McCain was moderate.

In 2000, Johnson famously endorsed fellow Texan George W. Bush over McCain for president. However, Johnson vehemently defended McCain after Donald Trump accused him of not being heroic in 2015.

Johnson was released from confinement in 1973. He later became the commander of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing before retiring as a colonel. His decorations include multiple Air Medals, Legions of Merit, Silver Stars and Purple Hearts as well as a Distinguished Flying Cross and a Bronze Star.

Elected to Congress in 1991

Johnson was first elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1984. He would be re-elected three times.

In 1991, Republican Congressman Steve Bartlett was elected mayor of Dallas. As such, he resigned as the representative from Texas' 3rd District.

Johnson would go on to win the Dallas-area seat in a special election. And he would win it another 13 times over the course of his career.

In 2015, the House chose Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan to become the next speaker of the House. He was the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Johnson was selected as the next chairman. But his tenure would be brief. He soon gave up the post to Kevin Brady, another Texas representative.

Johnson chose not to run for re-election in 2018. Republican State Senator Van Taylor was elected to replace him.

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