Category Archives: Travels

On old long syne — 2015

(click on the image above)

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne*?
For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
and surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.
We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
and gie’s a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak’ a right gude-willie waught,
for auld lang syne.”

Should auld acquaintance be forgot  … ?

Pushing on to 72 years means many “auld acquaintance’s” there behind me, but with fewer coming along with me.

It’s been a good life!  … Easy?  Well in a very broad sense yes it has been easy, but there are those times, in the midst of it all, when it has seemed hard and troublesome.

But then I think on the many “auld acquaintance’s” and I am indeed a very grateful and blessed man. Blessed by God with much family — parents who loved me and raised me with love … a wonderful woman, a wife, as a lifelong companion, lover  and friend  … a wonderful son and wonderful daughter (I love you both!) … three wonderful grandchildren … and two brothers.

And the other family spread out all over this amazing nation and across the world. Father in law, mother in lay, brothers and sisters in law, aunts & uncles – cousins aplenty, both mine and Diana’s. I love and have loved them all.

Friends – some lifelong and some new. Friends across this fruited land and far away places like The Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Hungary, Fiji, Zambia, Italy, South Africa.

In 2015 I was amazingly able to renew some truly “auld acquaintance’s.” Old meaning from the days of my youth and  early adulthood:

Here are a few:


Coach Sam Jankovich.

Coach SamCoachSam now 

You can read about Coach Sam’s storied career at the link above, but let me tell you the story of how he and I are connected and how we became reconnected this past year. 

Sam and I are Butte Montana natives, and after having gone our separate ways following high school, I didn’t give much thought to Sam, and I’m sure he could not have remembered me as an undistinguished skinny high school kid.

But then a few years ago Sam’s son Sam bought the iconic M&M bar in Butte and set out to reestablish it a watering hole in uptown Butte.

Young Sam

A few years ago while visiting Butte we met young Sam in the M&M, had a beer and exchanged pleasantries. Sam brought us to the back of the bar where he had a “Sam Jankovich Hall of Fame” display with many mementos of his father.

While looking at all of this stuff I mentioned to Sam that I remembered his dad from Butte High. Sam, expecting I was perhaps a football jock, was surprised and laughed when I told him that his dad taught me typing.  That’s right … Coach Sam, football legend,  also taught typing, and I am forever grateful for that skill.

Sam gave me his dad’s phone number in Haydon Lake Idaho and said “give him a call. So I tucked the number in my wallet for a couple of years.

Then in August 2015, while walking a trail in Idaho not far from Sam’s place in Haydon Lake, I took that number from my wallet and called:

Coach: Hello …
Me: Hello Mr. Jankovich (you should always address a teacher as Mr. Miss or Mrs.)  This is Don Johnson, you may remember me from your days at Butte High.
Coach: Well the name sounds familiar … (he’s thinking football.)
Me: You’re perhaps thinking I’m one of your players, but actually Mr. Jankovich I remember you as my typing teacher.
Coach: “ … laughter … ”
Me: “ … laughter … ” I’m in your neighborhood for awhile, and it would sure be nice to see you again.
Sam: Well what a surprise. Tell ya what, I’m going to Butte this weekend, and if you are still around next week when I get back why don’t you come on over and we’ll have a drink and talk Butte.
Me: Sounds like a plan, I’ll call next week.
Sam: Ya know I hear from my players now and then, and sometimes we get together. But you are the very first of my typing students to ever give me a call … laughter … laughter.

So the next week I visited Sam at his house and we had a cup of coffee and talked Butte. And as I was leaving he said “next time bring your wife … I’d like to meet her.”


Major Mark (Foxy) Foxwell


Mark Foxwell was the Air Force Officer in Charge at Tyndall AFB Florida in 1977 when we installed the ACMI range there. We worked with him on an almost daily basis back then and he was one class act and fun to be around, to say nothing about how helpful he was in coordination things we both needed.  The following is the e-mail I sent to him recently, followed by his reply.

Hi “Foxy” It’s been many a year, but we worked together at the ACMI at Tyndall. I was part of the Cubic crew that installed the range back in 1977.
I think of those days every now and then, and they were good times … and I remember working with you with your dedication and good hummer.
Your name came up last night in one of those strange “small world” events. My daughter’s friend Krissy was at our house baking Christmas cookies and they took a break to make some Red Beans & Rice. It smelled really good and I made the remark that it reminded me of my days in Panama City with my old friend Ed Burdik. Krissy perked up and said “you were in Panama City? That’s where I was born … my dad was a F-106 pilot stationed at Tyndall.” And as it turned out we were all there together at the same time.
I don’t know her dad’s name, but when I find out I will send it to you per chance you may know one another.
Another name that came up was Skip Sanders. I knew Skip over the years as I continued working Cubic Air Ranges and we would run into one another on occasion.
I don’t know what you did following Tyndall, but you may be interested in knowing a bit about what happened to ACMI in the subsequent years. You can take a look at and see the latest. The last project I worked, in 2009, was what is called P-5 and handles 72 aircraft and the pretty much the entire battle space (computer technology is wonderful).
And I put together my own remembrances and history of the system and its people at:
It’s good to see your face once more.
Don Johnson

Mark’s reply:

Wow, Don, what a pleasant surprise to hear from you. Working with you and Cubic on the ACMI helped really propel my career; I got promoted early after that stint at Tyndall, later became IWS Commander, then on to Europe and F-16s. I retired as the Tyndall Base Commander in late 1992. I do not recognize Krissy; but certainly I relished knowing and working with Skip Sanders. Thank You for contacting me. Let’s keep in touch.


Jack Hix

JackHix2JackHix3Jack Hix FT SeamanJackHix4

Jack and I were Fire Control Technicians (FTG) who operated and maintained the equipment associated with controlling the five 5” guns we had on board. We served together on the USS Porterfield (DD-682) in 1965-66 and then did our active reserve duty from 1966-69 on board the USS Shields (DD-596) also  a Fletcher class tin can.

We were both married, and had apartments off base and were quite good friends during those years. But as time moved on we went our separate ways and lost contact with one another.

Then in recent weeks I was able to contact Jack via Facebook. Not much conversation yet, but hopefully that will change and I hope to see Jack at the 2016 ship reunion in San Diego where he still lives.


LTJG Adam von Dioszeghy (Mr. vonD)

VonD NavyMrvonD3

Adam von Dioszeghy was the ASW (Anti-Submarine-Warfare) Officer during the time I was on the USS Porterfield (DD-682) in 1965-66. Mr. vonD was also the Officer in Charge of IC-Plot during General Quarters, and we spent a good deal of time together side by side, along with Jack Hix,  running the Fire Control Computer. Mr. vonD, being the officer also had the responsibility for actually pulling the triggers which shot our matched set of 5 –  5”/38 Caliber guns.

My normal underway watch station was the Bridge watch where I actually took my turn as helmsman and steered the ship as well as phone talker, look-out and Lee Helmsman where I relayed ship speed to the engine rooms via an Engine Order Telegraph. Mr. vonD was one of the Officers of the Deck, and and we worked together there as well.

The following is the e-mail message where we hooked up again after almost 50 years:

Hello Mrs. Von Dioszeghy,
I hope you get this message, and I hope I have the right people to send this to.
I was in the Navy back in 1965-66 on board the USS Porterfield (DD-682) and at one of my General Quarters stations in a place called IC-Plot was this crazy guy LTJG Adam von Dioszeghy who was the officer in charge in that space and the guy that actually pulled the gun triggers. I was an FT Seaman at the time and made FT 3’rd class on the Porterfield.
If he is the guy, it would b e great to say hello once more after all these years.
My wife and I and another couple from Ridgecrest CA visited Hungary several years ago and enjoyed it very much. We spent a week at Keszthely, and then a week at Budapest. We enjoyed our time in both places very much, and at Keszthely met a couple of Americans that snow bird between Tucson and Keszthely.
Looking at your pictures, it looks like you have a lovely place and a good life.
In recent years, I have rekindled a passionate interest in things Navy and have published a book and put together a video of life at sea. You can see them at:
The Porterfield has had reunions for 40 years now, and my wife and I have attended the last three and have met and re-met sailors and family going back to 1943 through 1969 — it’s been an amazing experience for me.
I am in charge of organizing the 2016 reunion in San Diego next September, and if ya’ll are the Von Dioszeghys I think you are, we would love to see you there. I know it’s a long shot, but hey if the question is never asked, the answer is always no. Short of that, a greeting from Adam would be most welcomed by the group.

And his response:

Hi Don…yes indeed, I am the one and only crazy guy in IC-plot. As you may recall, everyone called me Mr. vonD. I’d like to keep in touch with you, so here is my e-mail (better than Facebook): I also have written a book, which contains a number of Porterfield stories: the link to it has already been sent to you. I will order your book right now….can’t wait to read it. I loved your video about life at sea (and the story of the Murphy which I didn’t know). I have just looked through my 1965 cruise book and found the picture of second division, but I don’t know where you are in it…please tell me the row and the number (I’m sure you have the cruise book). I’m looking forward to hearing from you VERY SOON! Happy New Year! Adam von Dioszeghy

It turns out that Adam was a Hungarian refugee who escaped in 1956 during the Hungarian Revolution. Years later in 2005 he and his wife bought a small farm outside of Budapest and now live there.  Someday I’m hoping they will invite us over to sip a bit of their home made wine and chat a bit.


So there you have it from the end of 2015. I enjoy life, and I enjoy learning the life stories of others. I hope you have enjoyed my time travel with a few of my auld acquaintance’s

Don Johnson – December 2015



Europe 2015–An Overview


A glance at the map above will give you an overview of our very ambitious and extensive travels in and around the Mediterranean area. We were gone about seven weeks and subsequent posts will give you a glimpse of the places we visited.

Even though we took zillions of pictures, my intention is to be rather selective with our own pictures and rely more on internet web sites to capture the beauty, the culture and history of the places we have visited. 

We traveled with good friends Dean and Jill Elliott from our old home town of Ridgecrest CA and have traveled many times with this fine couple in the past.


Dean & Jill Elliot


Don & Diana Johnson

When I joined the Navy back in 1964 I had visions of taking a “Med Cruise.” Finally we raised anchor and set sail on this old sailor’s Med cruise.

Vermont: Fast Becoming A Favorite State

EDIT: We just received an e-mail response from State Senator Joe Benning. See comment # 2 for his remarks.

DISCLAIMER:  The pictures below are not my own, but we have seen many such beautiful scenes with our own eyes and have even taken our own pictures.

The past two years we have made the grand tour of New England; in 2013 we drove from Hershey PA to New Haven CT, then North through central Connecticut, Massachusetts, and then Vermont where we spent a night close to the Canadian border. We then drove NE to Quebec City where we spent a week in a Beaupre, a town about 30 miles east of Quebec City on the St. Lawrence Seaway. We then drove through central Maine and spent 5 days at a friends “barn” on the small island of Islesboro along the coast of Maine.

This year, 2014, we did the same thing except instead of Main we spent a week at Smugglers Notch in Vermont.

Both trips were in mid/late October and the famed New England fall colors were displayed in all their splendor.

Canada and <b>New</b> <b>England</b> <b>Fall</b> Foliage | Sept. 16 to 28, 2014



Below is the Von Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe   …  remember The Sound of Music?

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Vermont state government in Montpelier

Vermont State Capital building in Montpelier, Vermont.

I was raining all day so we decided this would be a good time to visit the state capital … this was indeed a highlight of the trip, at least for me, and here is why:

Our first stop was the visitors center across the street from the capital building. A friendly staff met us and was available for questions and conversation. As I wandered about I noticed a very prominent Vermont veterans display with pictures and bios of Vermont military who had recently given their lives in service in Afghanistan and Iraq. Accompanying this display was a very nice book showing the various military units from the state. I talked to one of the staff about this display and complemented him on it. He was a bit younger than me, but one of the Vietnam War generation of eligible draftees. He received his draft notice along with a high draft number which made him a likely candidate for serving in Vietnam. He told his parents that he would get a job and wait to see what happened regarding his call-up. He also told his mom that if called he would serve and would not go to Canada as so many did in those days. It turns out he wasn’t called.

This fellow also told me that Vermont sent more soldiers to Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq than any other state on a per-capita basis.

Walking across the street we entered the capital building. As you can see in the picture above, and counting the windows, it’s not a very large building.

As we waited for a tour, we wandered up and down the main hallway and I was immediately aware of the small scale of this building. To the left at the end of the hallway was the Lt. Governor’s office; the door was open revealing a single desk and an electrician doing some sort of maintenance. Next to that office was another one which was a state department of something or another – again, one desk and the room opened to the hallway. At the other end of the main floor the pattern was repeated – door opened to the hallway with only one desk … very minimalist, and that minimalism was noticeable.

The tour guide gathered us up and we went upstairs to the legislative rooms where she briefed us on the structure of the state government:

  • Senators and representatives are elected to two year terms.
  • The Governor and Lt. Governor are likewise elected to two year terms.
  • Senators and representatives are paid, as I recall, something less than $1,000 per session.
  • The legislative session runs, as I recall, from February to May.
  • The legislators have no offices – while in the capital building their storage space is limited to a school type lift-top desk about 3’ wide and maybe 10” deep.
  • The Governor is the only one having an office, and the only full time elected official.
  • Outside the Governors office is a large portrait of the previous governor. The guide asked a loaded question “do you notice anything unusual about the portrait?” She then pointed out that the governor, a politician, had his hand in a pocket … his own!

Back downstairs Steve and I were wandering around when I looked into what looked like a workroom. It was empty save for one individual who stood up and introduced himself and informed us that normally outsiders are not allowed in that room unless accompanied by a legislator … he then identified himself as a legislator – the Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning.  Senator Benning was very cordial and informative and pointed out a series of file folders prominently displayed in the hallway. These folders contained the bills that would be brought before the legislature in the next session. These bills were freely available to anyone who walked into the building and was interested in a legislative bill … nobody had to “pass the bill to find out what is in it.”

I commented to the Senator how impressed I was with the minimalist  flavor I was experiencing. He responded by saying  ‘yes, we like to keep government as close to the people as possible, and that began as you came in the portico – no guards and no metal detectors.’

This tour through a state capital like Vermont was exhilarating and inspirational – and a reminder of the direction from which we as a nation came … and a hope for a return to something akin to what Vermont appears to have:  “government of the people, by the people and for the people.”  This is the kind of hope and change I can sign up for.

Breaking news:

Gruber’s contract with Vermont ends after missteps on ObamaCare pile up

If you haven’t heard, or haven’t been paying attention, this Obamacare architect, MIT Professor Gruber, has been bragging on a number of occasions how the “Affordable Care Act (ACA)”  was constructed and passed based on lies and deception, and the “stupidity” of the American people.

So here is tiny Vermont, with its legislature not even in session, calling Professor Gruber to account:

A spokesman for Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said Wednesday that the state would no longer pay the ObamaCare architect.

“As the Governor and I have said, the comments by Mr. Gruber are offensive, inappropriate and do not reflect the thinking of this administration or how we do things in Vermont,” Lawrence Miller, said Wednesday in a statement. “As we have also said, we need solid economic modeling in order to move forward with health care reform.”

Miller continued that he told Gruber, “that I expect his team to complete the work that we need to provide the legislature and Vermonters with a public health care financing plan. I’ve informed Mr. McGruber that we will not be paying him any further for his part in completing that work.”

Gruber’s original contract with the state was worth more than $400,000. He’s already been paid $160,000.

The news about Gruber was made public at an informational session for Vermont’s legislators.

Last week, the state’s Senate Minority Leader, Joe Benning, called on Shumlin to terminate Gruber’s contract following the release of videos showing the MIT professor intentionally deceived the public in drafting the Affordable Care Act.

“I join with my Senate colleague, Sen. Kevin Mullin, in urging the governor to terminate his contract,” Benning, R-Caledonia, told Vermont Watchdog. “If the powers that be attempted to trick them like that, then those people should be immediately removed from positions of authority, be they elected officials or hired contractors.”

Benning is the second member of the Vermont Senate to call for Gruber’s termination. Last week, Mullin, R-Rutland, a member of the Health Care Oversight Committee, told Vermont Watchdog the governor should “terminate his contract immediately.”

Good for you Vermont … and Senator Joe Benning – proud to have met you.

“Joe Benning … is shaping up to be the best leader in modern state government.”
[Caledonian-Record, December 7, 2013]

Don Johnson – November 2014