U.S. 75 gets a new name through Collin County


Published: 02/27/2014

by McKinney Courier Gazette


Motorists traveling on U.S. Highway 75 through Plano will soon see some new signage.

The stretch of 75 from the President George Bush Turnpike to U.S. Highway 380 has been renamed in honor of U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson. Signs denoting the road as the Sam Johnson Highway began being installed Monday morning.

Johnson, a Plano resident who has served Collin County in Washington, D.C. since 1991 and served in the Texas House of Representatives prior to that, said it was nice to be honored by people he respects.

“I think this is marvelous,” Johnson said. “The people of this community are just great. This is the heart of Texas right here.”

Prior to becoming a politician, Johnson served as an Air Force fighter pilot in both Korea and Vietnam. While flying over North Vietnam in 1966, Johnson was shot down and spent seven years a prisoner of war. Johnson said his love of his country means that he would do it all again, even if it meant spending more time as a prisoner of war.

The process of getting the road renamed began in the Texas House in 2013. Rep. Jeff Leach said while roads are normally not renamed after people who are still living, Johnson is the exception.

“I was driving on 75 one day and the idea just popped into my head,” Leach said. “Congressman Johnson represents all that is good about America. He is obviously a national hero and a public servant. Our community would not be what it is today if not for his service. All of us younger public servants in Collin County owe Johnson a great debt because he has set the bar for what public service is all about.”

Leach got assistance from Sen. Ken Paxton to move his bill through the Texas Senate. Paxton, who is leaving the senate to run for Texas Attorney General, said he didn’t want to pass up a chance to show his appreciation for Johnson before he left office.

“I am going to be excited every time I see his name on that highway, knowing that we are honoring someone who has done so much for our country,” Paxton said.

The renaming comes 41 years and one week after Johnson returned home from Vietnam. During the renaming ceremony, held at Collin College’s Spring Creek Campus, Johnson said while he appreciates the honor, he wants people to remember those soldiers, airman, sailors and Marines who didn’t get a chance to return home to their families.

“Sometimes people have called me a war hero,” he said. “While that’s kind and I appreciate the compliment, I prefer fighter pilot or combat veteran, or better yet husband and father. After all, as Will Rogers once said, ‘We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.’  This is for the real heroes, and I salute each and every one of them.”