Johnny Childs

Johnny H Childs Sr.

Monday, March 25th, 1935 - Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
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Johnny H. Childs, age 84, passed away at his home in Navarre, FL, on Wednesday, October, 23, 2019, after a five year battle with cancer. He was born in Macon, GA graduating from Lanier High School in 1953. He attended the University of Georgia, Southern Tech and Mercer. In 1956 he joined the Navy as an aviation cadet and in 1957 received his Navy Wings and commission as an Ensign in Pensacola, FL. In 1958, he married Emily Mason, his high school sweetheart and often said “she is the wind beneath my wings.”

Their first duty station was in San Diego, CA, where he was attached to Helicopter Squadron Eight. During that tour of duty, Johnny made a six month cruise to the South China Sea aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Hornet.

This was followed by another six month cruise to the same area aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Bennington. His next tour took him to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, where he received a degree in Nautical Science in 1963. After Monterey, he was transferred to Pensacola, FL, where he served as a Flight Instructor for two years. During this time he was the flight instructor for two astronauts, Dick Gordon and Dave Scott. The initial astronauts were required to have helicopter training, in case the last part of their descent to the moon would be flown like a helicopter if the automatic computer landing system failed.

His next tour was back in San Diego aboard the USS Iwo Jima as the Flight Deck Officer and Aircraft Handling Officer. During this assignment, he made a nine month cruise and a six month cruise to Vietnam.

Leaving the West Coast again, found Johnny in Key West, FL for 10 weeks, of training before being assigned to Helicopter Squadron 11 in Quonset Point, RI. During this tour, he made a six month cruise to Europe aboard the Carrier USS Wasp. This was followed by a ten week cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, aboard the Carrier USS Intrepid.

The next assignment was in Norfolk, VA, to attend the Armed Forces Staff College. Upon graduation in 1970, he remained in Norfolk on the staff of the commander of Naval Air Forces Atlantic as the Helicopter Training Officer for all East Coast Helicopter Squadrons. After four years in Norfolk, he returned to Pensacola, FL, where he served on the Chief of Naval Education Staff. His next tour was in Puerto Rico where he served as the Executive Officer of Naval Station, Roosevelt Roads.

Johnny’s last tour was back in Pensacola at the Naval Aviation School Command where he was the Human Resources Management Officer. After 28 years of service, he retired as a Commander, grateful to have had the privilege to serve his country.

After his retirement from the Navy, Johnny and Emily returned to Georgia where he established the NJROTC program in Henry County. The program began at Henry County High School and later expanded to six other high schools in the county. He taught NJROTC for 11 years, receiving the honor of Teacher of the Year in 1989. As he watched his former students go on to successful careers, both in the military and other leadership roles across the country, he was filled with pride at who these young men and women had become. Upon retirement, Johnny and Emily stayed in Jonesboro until 2018 when they moved back to the Pensacola area to live near their son, John Childs, Jr., and his family. Of all his many accomplishments, Johnny was most proud of his family. His legacy credits many of their accomplishments to the foundation of love and support they always had from him, their “Dad” or “Pops”.

He was preceded in death by his daughter, Emily Elizabeth Childs; his sister, Gloria Childs; his father, J. T. Childs (Grace); and his mother, Elizabeth Meek Walden.

Johnny is survived by his wife of 61 years, Emily Mason Childs; daughter, Kim Childs Belt (Phil) of St Simons Island, GA; son, John H. Childs, Jr. (Natalie) of Gulf Breeze, FL; grandchildren, Virginia Lee Fortunato (Lukas) of East Point, GA; John Maddox Belt (Lauren) of St. Simons Island, GA; Christine Cherie Childs Ferguson (Morgan) of Tuscaloosa, AL; John H. Childs, III and Emelia Gail Childs of Gulf Breeze, FL; great-grandchild, Tabitha Marie Fortunato; and his sister-in-law, Virginia Lee Mason Elder, of Auburn, AL.

A reception celebrating Johnny’s life will be at 1400, Sunday, November 17, 2019, at Heritage Hall, Seville Quarter, Downtown Historic Pensacola.

A Military Honors Funeral will be at 1330, Monday, November 18, 2019 at Barrancas National Cemetery, NAS Pensacola with Lewis Funeral Home of Navarre directing.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN, 38105; or Folds of Honor, Department 13, Tulsa, OK 74182.

NOTE TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS: We suggest using hotels near Seville which is centrally located to great restaurants as well as NAS and the Pensacola Airport as well as easy access to I-10. Navarre is an hour drive from these event locations and we won't be having any events in Navarre.

We also suggest that you arrive at the NAS front gate around 1230 in order to clear security in time for the service. If you don't have a military ID and depending on the level of security required on the day of the service, you may be required to fill out paper work in the office which will include your name, address, where you were born, etc. as well as showing a picture ID and car insurance information which will all be verified before you are given a pass to enter the base.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Sunday, November 17th, 2019 | 2:00pm
    Sunday, November 17th, 2019 2:00pm
    Heritage Hall (Seville Quarter)
    130 East Government Street
    PENSACOLA, FL 32502
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Service

    Monday, November 18th, 2019 | 1:30pm
    Monday, November 18th, 2019 1:30pm
    Barrancas National Cemetery
    1 Cemetery Rd
    PENSACOLA, FL 32508
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Interment

    Barrancas National Cemetery
    1 Cemetery Rd
    PENSACOLA, FL 32508
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence

Ruth Nichols

Posted at 05:21pm
The Retired Officers Wives and Widows Association would like to extend our condolences on the passing of CDR Johnny H. Childs, Sr., USN (Ret.). The association brings together the wives of retired officers, and widows of officers, of the United States Armed Forces for social activities. We meet at local restaurants in Pensacola every second Thursday of the month, September through June. If you would be interested in joining us to share in fellowship with ladies of similar interests and experiences, please call Mrs. Mary Chase at 850-686-1160.


Posted at 12:05pm
I am one proud Pops' girl! My memories of him are too many to mention but my most proud moment is when I got to introduce him to his great granddaughter, Tabitha Marie. I am forever grateful for the 31 years I've had being loved by him and know I wouldn't be who I am today without his tremendous influence. Two things I NEVER doubt -- how proud Pops was of who I have become and how much he loved me just the same. I love you and miss you Pops!

Adele Brinkley

Posted at 12:04pm
Emily, I am so thankful for the years I had with you and Commander Childs. What wonderful memories we made. Thank you for sharing him with me. May your precious memories keep him close to you. Love to all. Adele Brinkley

Bryan Fishburne

Posted at 11:51am
I will never forget running across Mrs. Childs on base when I was stationed in Pensacola. I jumped in the car with her and surprised the heck out of CDR Childs at their hotel room door. He was one of the best men I’ve ever known. Rest peacefully, CDR Childs.

Brian Long

Posted at 10:49am
My condolences to the family of CDR Childs. Along with LT. Satterwhite, and 1stSGT Falin I was introduced by CDR Childs to what would go from being just another elective in my high school career to what would be inspired to become my life. The memories I have of that time in NJROTC are warm and inspiring. He was appreciated and respected, and will be missed.

Brian Long, PO1, USN (RET)
Hampton, VA

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