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WEST COUNTY -- Crofton * Odenton * Fort Meade * Gambrills


Gen. Johnson of Fort Meade to retire

Lt. Gen. James Houston Johnson Jr., commander of the 1st Army, headquartered at Fort Meade, announced yesterday his plans to retire in September.

"He's served 33 years in the army and had an amazing career," said a headquarters spokesman. "It's just his time."

In February, several Meade officers said that they had been asked to take early retirement by June 1 to make room for younger officers as the military force shrinks, but a spokesman for the general confirmed that his retirement is a voluntary decision.

The spokesman would not elaborate, however, on the general's reasons for retirement, and the general could not be reached.

General Johnson graduated from West Point 1960 as a second lieutenant. He served with the 82d Airborne Division as a troop leader, was the first to jump into Panama when the United States invaded that country in December 1989 and was a division commander during the Persian Gulf war.

In May 1991, he assumed his duties as commander of the 1st Army, which covers much of the eastern United States.

The general's awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, numerous Air Medals and the Army Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

General Johnson and his wife, Edna, have four children: Mary, James, Michelle and Jeffrey.

8-year-old stole tear gas canister

An 8-year-old boy who accidentally set off a tear gas canister on a school bus last week has admitted to police that he shoplifted the device from a Severn variety store.

The boy originally told authorities that he bought the device, described as a defensive tool similar to a can of Mace. But over the weekend, he changed his story, police said yesterday.

The second-grader at Odenton Elementary has been suspended from classes pending a hearing with administrators, Sgt. Chuck Blevins said yesterday. The canister discharged while the bus was stopped at Route 175 and Morgan Road.

Because it is illegal to sell such a device to anyone under 18, investigators asked the boy where he bought it. He admitted to shoplifting it from a Jamesway store in Severn.

Police have not charged the boy, Sergeant Blevins said.

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