"On July 24, 1969, then-Lieutenant Johnson was co-pilot of Recovery One, the Sea King helicopter (#66) that retrieved the three Apollo 11 astronauts from the ocean and flew them back to the USS Hornet."
Captain Bruce Johnson (Ret.) graduated from the University of Washington in 1966 with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration. He later attended Skagit Valley College and received an associates degree in Environmental Conservation in 1997. After graduating from Skagit Valley College, he returned there as an instructor of global positioning systems (GPS) for five years.
Bruce earned his naval aviator’s wings in 1968 and served five years on active duty. He was initially assigned to Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Four (HS-4) based in Imperial Beach, CA. On July 24, 1969, then-Lieutenant Johnson was co-pilot of Recovery One, the Sea King helicopter (#66) that retrieved the three Apollo 11 astronauts from the ocean and flew them back to the USS Hornet.
Bruce’s primary responsibility during the spaceflight recovery mission was to act as safety observer, ensuring that the hovering helicopter maintained clearance from other aircraft in the area and that safe altitudes were maintained during all the flight maneuvers. He also ensured that all checklists and the special procedures for the recovery evolution were followed and safely completed.
He later served 22 years in the Navy Reserve, mostly piloting H-3 helicopters and P-2 and P-3 patrol planes.
Most of Bruce’s working career was in the construction industry running his own small construction firm. After receiving the degree in environmental conservation, he spent a number of years delineating and mapping wetlands. In addition, he developed and implemented restoration plans for degraded wetlands, including the creation of GPS-based maps for other firms that were working with wetlands.
He has also been active in the salmon recovery effort in Washington. He served on the board of the Skagit Fisheries Enhancement Group (SFEG) and participated in several enhancement projects. He is currently involved with a major project in a side channel to the Skagit River that is on his property.