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About this collection

The John Porter Merrel Johnston Letters were written by Johnston while a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. The collection consists of almost 200 items of correspondence spanning the period of June 1933 through May 1937 and a 1932 group photo showing his father, Captain R. H. Johnston. The collection is composed of letters, a few telegrams and greeting cards. Except for one letter to his brother Howard, the letters are addressed to his parents, Captain and Mrs. R. H. Johnston.

Much of the correspondence deals with Johnston's grades, studies, courses, infractions, Academy routine, social activities, personal finances and purchases. Johnston's letters include remarks on the USNA fencing team (of which he was a member), his room-mate (USNA slang "wife") Clay Goodloe, his 1934 summer practice cruise (U.S.S. Arkansas (Battleship: BB-33)) and his personal tourism, the 1935 destroyer cruise, the 1936 cruise, the USNA scarlet fever scare, and his Academy reputation as a "cutthroat." The letters also contain mentions of midshipman customs and other midshipman matters. Johnston also touches upon his personal hobbies of photography and stamp-collecting.

Biographical Sketch

John Porter Merrell Johnston was born 4 September 1914 in New York City. A graduate of the Sidwell Friends School, he was appointed to the United States Naval Academy from Missouri and graduated as a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1937. Following graduation, his first assignment was aboard the U.S.S. Houston (Heavy cruiser: CA-30).

In September 1939, Johnston joined the U.S.S. John D. Edwards (Destroyer: DD-216), which was deployed to China at the time. His service aboard this destroyer (through 1942) included Pacific combat. Due to a hearing disability, Johnston was next assigned to limited shore duty. Johnston reached his final rank of Lieutenant Commander, 2 January 1942. On 1 April 1943, Johnston was placed on retired active duty status, serving from January 1943 through August 1945 at the Advance Base Establishment and Maintenance Division, CNO.

In 1944, Johnston married Elizabeth Winchester King of Annapolis. Among his civilian accomplishments, LCDR Johnston worked for the Radiation Laboratory (MIT secretariat), earned an MBA from Harvard in 1947 and pursued a twenty-nine year career with the National Geographic Society, retiring in 1976 from the post of Purchasing Officer.

LCDR Johnston died, 25 October 1987, at the Carriage Hill Nursing Facility, Bethesda, Maryland and was interred at the Naval Academy Cemetery.

 
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