Cover photo for Billy Joe Johnson's Obituary
Billy Joe Johnson Profile Photo
1937 Billy 2023

Billy Joe Johnson

July 2, 1937 — April 30, 2023

Billy J. Johnson passed away on April 30, 2023, in Athens, Texas. Billy was born on July 2, 1937, in Marston, MO.

At the age of 18, in 1955, Billy enlisted in the United States Navy where he served more than twenty-one years of faithful and honorable service. During that time Billy earned his GED and was awarded several medals. One of those medals was for his brave acts on April 1, 1970, he was boat captain of a river patrol boat set in waterborne guard post on the Vam Co Tay River, and after an all-night vigil his crew heard voices in the far distance. Billy immediately directed his crew to their positions, manning a machine gun himself and waited quietly. Suddenly a sampan with three Viet Cong embarked appeared out of a nearby canal. Billy responded quickly with a lethal volume of fire killing the enemy and sinking the sampan. Billy then got his boat underway and skillfully maneuvered midstream where he could direct a lethal volume of fire on enemy positions on the riverbank. Billy’s boat handling skill permitted his gunners to kill several more enemy soldiers. And swept the area the following morning which then resulted in the capture of enemy rifles and valuable documents. Petty Officer JOHNSON's professionalism, courage under fire and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. Billy was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V" June 10, 1972, the day they got hit in NORTH VIETNAM! On board the U.S.S. BAUSELL. Billy was injured and received the Purple Heart medal. October 1, 1972, he was appointed Chief Petty Officer Signalman. February 1974 Billy reported to Recruit Training Command where he was assigned as a Company Commander with subsequent assignments as 13th Battalion and llth Battalion Adjutant. Billy ended his service in the Navy in 1976. As Chief Petty Officer.

Billy went on to live the rest of his life enjoying time with his friends and family, going camping, hunting, and fishing on the 20 acre’s he owned in Missouri with his buddy Burt. Billy enjoyed deep sea fishing with his very best friend and old Navy buddy David. Billy loved it when he got to visit his brother in Colorado while spending time with his brother, his nieces, and his nephew. 


Billy was a hardworking man as if 21 years in the navy wasn’t enough. He went on and worked several more years on the road as a private investigator and after coming off the road in 1997 he went to work for Walmart for 20 more years. He touched so many people’s lives everyday as the Walmart door greater in Gun Barrel City. In mid-2017, Billy fully retired at 80 years of age. The employees and customers at Walmart knew him as BJ.


Billy is preceded by his parents, Arthur and Evelyn Johnson.

Billy is survived by his son, Justin Phelan of Gun Barrel City, TX; granddaughter, Kristen Phelan of Palmer, TX; grandson, Steven Phelan of Ennis, TX; great-granddaughters, Sevyn Phelan, and Sofia Phelan of Ennis, TX; brother, Bobby Johnson, and wife Peggy; nephew, Eric Johnson; nieces, Vicki Gorman, and Kimberly Lugger.



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Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, June 2, 2023

3:15 - 3:45 pm (Central time)

Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery

2000 Mountain Creek Pkwy, Dallas, TX 75211

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