PASO ROBLES — Dennis Johansen will share selected photographs taken while he was an Army Combat Photographer during the Vietnam War, at the Estrella Warbirds Museum monthly dinner on Nov. 6.
Johansen served with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam and was stationed at Cu Chi, Republic of Vietnam, from February 1968 to February 1969. He arrived during the Tet Offensive of 1968, and was subjected to daily attacks and shelling at the support base where he was stationed.
He was attached to the Public Information Office (PIO), which was an innovation for the U. S. Army in an attempt to control information fed to the Press and Wire Services. Dennis was offered the job of Combat Photographer, who would spend up to two weeks with selected combat units in the field before returning to base camp where film was processed, photos printed, and articles written.
The Public Information Office at the 25th Infantry Division would then feed stories and photos to Stars and Stripes, and Wire Services such as Reuters, United Press International, and Associated Press. The Division also printed its own tabloid-sized newspaper once per week and a quarterly news magazine which also showcased photos and stories produced by the 17 photographer-writers in the field.
Johansen said it sounded like a great job until his supervising commander said he didn’t want pictures of the backs of our fighting soldiers. That required him to work beyond the front line, often in the cross-fire zone.
Johansen received a Bronze Star with cluster, the Air Medal with two clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with cluster, and the normal in-country awards and citations.
Johansen and his wife, Jane, moved to San Luis Obispo after he left the service in 1970. They opened Jim’s Campus Camera, which they operated for the next 43 years.
Denny and Jane are both retired now, and Denny spends three days-per-week in the Restoration Shop at the Estrella Warbird Museum painting airplanes, military vehicles, and other museum pieces.
The November dinner at the Estrella Warbirds Museum will be on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Reservations can be made by calling the museum at 805 296-1935 or online at ewarbirds.org/museum/reservations.shtml. Deadline for reservations is 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4. Price for the dinner is $20 per person. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with a no-host bar (cash only, no credit cards), and the catered dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Estrella Warbirds Museum is located at 4251 Dry Creek Rd., Paso Robles.
The museum is open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Call for Monday holiday hours. For general admission information, visit ewarbirds.org.