Wayne Archer “Johnnie” Johnson, L Company, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, U. S. Army, was captured on July 11, 1950. Johnson became part of the Tiger Survivors group and was held for nearly 38 months by the North Koreans and then by the Chinese Army. He was from Lima, Ohio.
Johnson started keeping a record of the men so that the families back home would know what happened to their loved ones. The fact that he could have been punished or even shot for keeping such a list did not stop him. Along the way, buddies would tell him about someone dying and others would stand guard while Johnson recorded the deaths.
When Johnson was released in August 1953, he told the authorities on the ship about his list and the debriefing officer noted it in his file. But, nothing was done about it until 1994 when Johnson announced to several of his buddies that he still had the list.
Wilbert R. “Shorty” Estabrook, B Company, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, U. S. Army, founded the Tiger Survivors in 1970. He was working on rosters of the living and dead and Johnson’s list brought the Tiger Survivors roster to completion. Estabrook was captured on 16 July 1950.
Command Sergeant Major Timothy F. Casey, Retired U. S. Army, was also interested in POW affairs of the Korean War, though he was not a POW himself. It was Casey who brought Johnson’s list to the attention of the authorities. Casey soon became an unpaid analyst for the Tiger Survivors group and is considered by many to be an expert on Korean War POWs. With Johnson’s list and other information, Estabrook and Casey began the long process of reconstructing Tiger Survivors records which now include complete information as you see it.
Because of Johnson’s efforts in keeping his secret list, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal at a reunion of the Korean War Ex-POWs. Due to the efforts of many, the complete Tiger Survivors roster is now on the internet. Every Tiger Survivor is accounted for.