JACKSONVILLE, Fl. – It's been 65 years since Elliot Lloyd Vann was in Korea. Now he's 88 years old and looking for his brother in-arms, John C. Johnson. Vann served as a driver for the supply and medic trucks in the U.S. Army. In April, his granddaughter Cheri Vann posted an old photo on Facebook that she believes was taken between 1952-53. The photo of her grandfather and his comrade was shared more than 400 times. They worked in the 752nd Transportation Company together. She says that only within the last five years has her grandfather opened up about his time in Korea and the experiences he had with the friend he says was from Marietta, Georgia.
The unique connection between Vann, a white man and Johnson a black man is admirable, considering that only four years prior, President Harry S. Truman signed an executive order establishing the President's Committee on Equality of Treatment and Opportunity in the Armed Services. This was the federal government's commitment to integrate the military. The friendship between them emerged in the midst of the Jim Crow era - a time where the South was segregated and racial tensions were provoking the civil rights movement.
"He really liked this guy and would love to know what happened to him. I’ve mailed a letter to the veterans' office and never heard anything back, and I don’t know how else to find him. We have called several numbers in Georgia, but no luck," said Cheri Vann.
Her grandfather, who goes by the name Sam, is from Clinton, North Carolina. He served in the Transportation Corps, driving medic trucks and supply trucks for about two years. After that, she says he came home to be a farmer.
"He has always said how dangerous driving the supply truck was. He named his truck Carolina Playboy," said Cheri Vann.
Her most recent attempt was to reach out to News4Jax for help on her grandfather's behalf. It has been 65 years since the photographs were taken. Sam Vann has not seen or heard from Johnson since. Vann hopes to make a connection that will help him locate Johnson.
Cheri Vann is willing to take her grandfather wherever is needed to find Johnson. "I would love to make this happen for him, just to know if the man is still alive or what," she said.