Carol Alban Johnson was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1944. She graduated from West High School and briefly attended Ohio State University before joining the the army in 1964.
After completing basic training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, Johnson was sent to personnel training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where she remained as a personnel specialist. In 1967 Johnson was selected to travel the country with an army informational team that provided staged recreations of the history of women in the military. Johnson then served as receptionist for Secretary of the Army Stanley Resor at the Pentagon.
In 1968 Johnson left the military after meeting her husband. After being honorably discharged, Johnson pursued a community college education and part time employment.