Washington, D.C. – The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) released the following statement upon the announcement of the passing of Sam Johnson, former Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee:
“From the skies over North Korea to the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ to the Halls of Congress, America has known few patriots as great as Sam Johnson. A lifelong Texan and a dear friend, Sam was a true American hero. I was blessed to sit next to him for many years on the Ways and Means Committee and, as chairman, I successfully urged the House to name the Sam Johnson Room in the Rayburn House Office Building in his honor.
“His legislative achievements are nothing short of extraordinary. He helped strengthen Social Security, made health care work better for our nation’s veterans; he sought to improve our health care system at every turn, and he was part of a generational rewrite of our nation’s tax code.
“Cathy and I send our prayers to Sam’s children, grandchildren and family. Our state and nation mourn this hero, but we will never forget his legacy. As Saint Clare reminds us: ‘Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear; for He that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you.’”
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), was born in San Antonio, Texas, on October 11, 1930. Johnson spent his life in public service – beginning with his 29-year career in the U.S. Air Force. As director of the Air Force Fighter Weapons School, Johnson flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. During his second tour in Vietnam, he was shot down and endured seven years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi Hilton.
Following his years as a POW, in 1973, Johnson returned home to Texas to his wife – and high school sweetheart – the late Shirley Melton, whom he credits as the “real hero.” He established a home-building business in Dallas and served in the Texas State Legislature. In 1991, Johnson was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent North Texas. In 1995, Johnson was recommended by then-Ways and Means Chairman Bill Archer (R-TX) to serve on the Committee.
Becoming Chairman of the Subcommittee on Social Security in 2011, Chairman Johnson passed multiple pieces of legislation to strengthen Social Security and improve the agency’s service to the American people. In 2016, his service to the Committee on Ways and Means, the House of Representatives, and the U.S. Air Force, was recognized when a hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building was formally named the “Sam Johnson Room,” in an event attended by House Speaker Paul Ryan, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, among other distinguished guests.
On the wall behind the dais is a handwritten note from Sam, stating “Freedom has a taste to those who fight and almost die that the protected will never know,” which a fellow POW etched into the wall in a POW cell. His service to both our Country and the House of Representatives has earned him wide praise from his colleagues – including being recognized in 2009 as the “most admired” Republican Member of the House.