Johnson was aboard B-24A #40-2374, which took off from Broome airfield in Western Australia. There were a total of twenty men aboard, including the plane's crew, armorers and crew chiefs from the 17th Pursuit Squadron, the flight surgeon of the 9th Bombardment Squadron and injured men under his care. They were being flown to Perth, having been evacuated from Java days before, just ahead of invading Japanese forces.
Minutes after the plane took off the base came under attack by Japanese fighters. The B-24 was shot down roughly ten miles from shore and only one man aboard made it ashore and survived.
Because his body was never recovered, Johnson is listed on the Tablets of the Missing.