Johnnie Edward Wilson was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the second of twelve children, on 4 February 1944. His eldest brother is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army Medical Service Corps. In the early 1950's, the family moved to Lorain, Ohio, where General Wilson completed high school in 1961. Together with two friends, General Wilson enlisted in the Army, becoming a supply clerk, and he subsequently completed a two and a half year tour in France. He returned to the U.S. for assignment at Fort Bragg in 1964, by which time he had been promoted to sergeant. He reenlisted for duty with the special forces, was assigned to the Seventh Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was soon promoted to staff sergeant.
General Wilson completed Ordnance Officer Candidate School at Aberdeen Proving Ground in May, 1967, and then spent two and a half years at Fort Bragg as platoon leader, shop officer, and company commander with the 782nd Maintenance Battalion of the 82nd Airborne. Following a year in Vietnam (1969-1970), where he served as a brigade supply officer with the 173rd Airborne Support Brigade and as Commander, C Company 173rd Support Battalion, he returned in 1970 to complete the Ordnance Advanced Course at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
General Wilson then enrolled at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, to complete his undergraduate studies. He participated in student government and as president of his military fraternity, Pen and Sword, while working with underprivileged children in the inner city. He was listed in the 1973-74 edition of Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities. He completed his degree in business in December, 1973, and was then assigned to Germany, where he served as company commander and later as Division Class IX officer with the 123rd Maintenance Battalion, 1st Armored Division from January 1974 until June 1976. He returned to the U.S. for the Command and General Staff College course in 1976. General Wilson served as the Deputy Commanding General, 21st TAACOM the Army's largest and most diverse logistics unit.
Based on his wide experience with leading soldiers, General Wilson was selected to command the Ordnance Center and School, responsible for the training and professional development of thousands of soldiers, NCOs, and officers every year. Following this successful assignment, General Wilson served as the Chief of staff, AMC, where he was responsible for resource and personnel management for a workforce with over 80,000 military and civilian members. From 1994 to 1996, General Wilson served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, Department of the Army, where he was responsible for worldwide logistics.
His numerous contributions to the Ordnance Corps while serving in these distinguished positions earned him the right to be inducted into the Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame.
His leadership and vision for the Ordnance Corps of the future will help us carry the flame into the 21st Century. General Wilson retired from active duty in April 1999 after 39 years of selfless service to the nation.