Hiram Johnson • September 29, 2021

Sergeant Major Hiram R. Johnson, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret), stood his final roll call at the age of 82. His late Marine buddies welcomed him home with open arms today, while those of us left behind mourn his passing.
Hiram was born in Butler, Alabama to Benjamin and Olive Skelton. As a teenager, he was adopted by the Richard Johnson family who relocated him to their Pensacola home. Hiram attended Tate High School where he quarterbacked the football team (go Aggies!); he was an avid Alabama football fan (Roll Tide Roll!). Hiram joined the US Marines in 1956 and found a home there much to his liking. He retired from the Corps in 1977 as a Sergeant Major of Marines, but he remained a Marine to the very end, living the Marine Credo ~ Once a Marine, Always a Marine.
Hiram never met a stranger, and his recollection of people and events of his Marine career was legion. He kept us enthralled and in awe as he recounted in detail, stories filled with inspiration, empathy, humor, and grit. Most of all, he had a tremendous sense of humor; his laugh was infectious.
Hiram served two tours of duty in the Republic of Vietnam. During his first tour he was severely wounded, recovered, and later served a second tour. In addition to the Purple Heart Medal, he earned a Bronze Star Medal for valor. His other military awards include the Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, and two Vietnam Crosses of Gallantry, one an individual award and the other a unit award.
Along the way in his Marine career, Hiram served in the coveted role of Marine Drill Instructor at the Corps’ flagship recruit depot, Parris Island, SC. After his retirement from the Marines, Hiram served as a Police Officer at Naval Air Station, Pensacola. He was very active in the local chapter of the Marine Corps League.
Hiram is survived by his loving wife Frances and his children Brenda Johnson Compton (Jimmy), Richard (Lenora), Debbie Johnson Cook (Paul), Traci Johnson Dilley (Daniel); his stepchildren John White, Jamie White, and Lorie Bedsole. He is also survived by his brother Patrick (Joan), many grand-children and great grand-children.
Arrangements are being handled by Pensacola Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, 7433 Pine Forest Rd, Pensacola, FL‎. Visitation and funeral service will occur Friday Oct 1st according to the following schedule:
Family and friends 12:30 to 2 PM; with service to follow at 2 PM. Interment will be in Barrancas National Cemetery with full military honors on Monday Oct 4th. Funeral procession will depart Pensacola Memorial Gardens Funeral Home at 9 AM for graveside service at Barrancas at 10:00 AM.

Semper Fi, Sergeant Major! Farewell friend and Marine buddy, from all of us who knew and loved you!
URAAGH! Well done, Sir!

  1. Myrtle Bailey says:

    Prayers for my classmate. I am incredibly impressed by his valor and courage And I thank him for his service to our country. Condolences to his family and many friends.

  2. Patrick Johnson says:

    Rest In Peace brother. You served our Marine Corps & country well. Semper Fi , Patrick

  3. Doris Dagen says:

    Rest in peace Hiram, with my deepest regards to your family who are in my prayers. Thank you for your service to our country… Semper Fi. URRAGH

  4. Melanie Werdebaugh says:

    Rest in a peace Uncle Hiram! You served your country well and will be missed by your family! Ooorrraaahhh SgtMaJ Mell

  5. Judy Hales says:

    My deepest sympathy to the Johnson Family. I was fortunate to become a part of the Tate 1958 Group through my husband, Joe Hales. Hiram and Frances were a special part of the group. I knew Hiram was an outstanding Marine, but his service record is so impressive. His service to our country is so appreciated. My prayers is for the family to put their faith in God during this difficult time.

  6. Sheila August says:

    Rest In Peace dearest Hiram and thank you for your incredible military service and kindness. Prayers for Francis and the entire family.

  7. Shelli Simmons says:

    What an incredible tribute! His service to our country is an inspiration and he is leaving behind a legacy full of love, compassion, service, courage and valor! You and your family will always be in our thoughts and prayers, I love you Fran!

  8. Judi Dirks says:


    My sympathies to you and your family. No matter how much notice we receive, the finality of losing someone is hard to accept. Life is not over, it is just different. I have and will be thinking of you…Judi

  9. Jim Lewallen (Wilbur) says:

    RIP my Marine brother-in-arms, friend, buddy, and treasured brother-in-law. Your home has been abuzz, as you can imagine, with stories regaling your Marine career, your friendship, and your leadership in so many, varied situations, both in service to your country, your family, and your community. YOU WOULD BE IMPRESSED, GOOD BUDDY! Know that we love you and that your absence leaves a huge hole in our hearts. Semper Fi!

  10. Lori McKinley says:

    RIP Hiram for a life well lived. Thank you for your service to our nation. We are grateful for your service and dedication. You will be missed by many.

  11. Fred Stallworth says:

    Hiram, Pat and David lived across the street from us at 305 Booth Avenue in Cantonment while I was a young boy during the 50’s. He was always one to take up time with us little fellows. His laugh and genuine love for life and people, whatever walk in life, young or old , I will remember forever. Hiram was a true hero to me and the boys on our block of Booth Avenue. Rest in peace dear friend. Freddie

  12. Shirley Sherrer Hoekstra says:

    Hiram was a large presence in our high school life at Tate High School. I wish my husband (who was a career Marine Aviator) could have met him. Hiram had a great sense of humor and could always make me laugh. RIP and thank you for your service. Semper FI
    Shirley Sherrer Hoekstra

  13. Mary White says:

    So sorry for all family and friends of Hiram
    Johnson. I and my Husband, Erwin Jackie White attended and graduated from Tate High School. God blessing for all.

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