Congressman Johnson receives special presentation during stop in Leesville

Published 9:42 am Friday, October 14, 2022

Special to the Leesville Leader

Louisiana U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson received a special presentation during a recent stop in Leesville — an autographed copy of Fire Chief Emeritus Michael Kuk’s book about his time with the Army in Vietnam titled, “An Army Firefighter in Vietnam.”

“What a honor it is to receive this special volume from Chief Kuk — an old friend and colleague of my father, pillar of our community, and friend of mine,” Johnson said.

“Congressman Johnson is the son of an esteemed firefighter colleague, and he knows the challenges of a very dangerous profession,” Kuk said. “His staunch support of the American firefighter contributes to the protection of Americans everywhere from unforeseen tragedies. His father paid the ultimate sacrifice as a firefighter, and my book is testament to the serious nature of the firefighter’s professional duties.”

Johnson is the son of Shreveport firefighter, Asst. Chief Patrick Johnson.

Kuk and Asst. Chief Johnson were friends and colleagues in the 1980s, as both men were working on developing hazardous materials response teams for their departments.

Tragedy struck Johnson when he responded to an anhydrous ammonia leak at a cold storage facility in Shreveport on Sept. 17, 1984. Johnson was caught in a cloud of unstable gas, was engulfed in a total flame environment, and suffered second- and third-degree burns over 80 percent body. He gradually overcame a five percent chance of survival, but was permanently disabled after the tragedy.

After a long, uphill fight overcoming many physical challenges, Johnson went on to serve numerous charitable causes and became well known for his many good works, the creation of valuable services for other burn victims, and professional fire safety training.

In addition to autographing the volume, Chief Kuk dedicated a page of personal inscription to Congressman Johnson recognizing his father’s accomplishments and the bond of brotherhood shared by firefighters everywhere.

Tragically, Patrick Johnson passed away from cancer just three days before his son Mike was elected to Congress.