Mildred V. Smith Johnson was born in 1932 in Iredell County, North Carolina. After graduation from Unity High School in 1949, she began nurses’ training at Columbia Hospital, South Carolina, in 1950. She finished in spring of 1953 and went to work at Lincoln Hospital, which served the African American populace of Durham, North Carolina.
In February of 1954, Johnson enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps (ANC). After basic training in Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and her first assignment at Fort Ord, California, she was sent overseas to Sendai, Japan, in January 1955. There she worked as an obstetrics nurse until returning to the United States in February 1957. Johnson married a serviceman she met in Japan and the couple moved to Denver, Colorado, where Johnson was assigned to Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center. She later worked at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. In June of 1961 Johnson retired from the ANC with the rank of captain.
Johnson continued her nursing career after her discharge from the military, working as a civilian nurse at Fitzsimmons until 1964, then at Norton Air Force Base, Vandenberg Air Force Base, and Oakland Naval Hospital in California. Johnson earned her BS in nursing from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in 1979, and retired in 1984. The family moved to North Carolina in 1988, where Johnson was active in the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. She died in 2000.