Major General Briard Poland Johnson graduated from Norwich University in 1927, when cavalry training was at the heart of a Norwich education. He commissioned into the U.S. Cavalry Reserve after graduation, and served as a reserve officer for six years while working as a civil engineer. He began active duty in 1933. During World War II, he served in the 2nd Armored Division, which was commanded by no fewer than three Norwich alumni over the course of the war: Ernest Harmon, Edward Brooks, and Isaac White. Johnson served in numerous World War II campaigns, including the D-Day landings.
After the war, he graduated from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and served at Fort Monroe and the Office of the Secretary of Defense before being assigned to his alma mater, Norwich University, as Commandant of Cadets in 1950. He arrived the same year as former 2nd Armored Division commander Ernest Harmon assumed the presidency.
At the outbreak of the Korean War, Johnson returned to the 2nd Armored Division, serving in Texas and then in Germany. The final years of his career saw a series of important command posts, including the Minnesota and Michigan Military Districts, the Eight Army Support Command in Korea, the XIV U.S. Army Corps, and finally the Joint U.S. Military Advisory Group in Thailand. He retired in 1963 with citations including the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Distinguished Service Medal, and Legion of Merit, in addition to a number of foreign decorations.
Major General Johnson died in 1980 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery along with many of his Norwich brothers.
A large collection of Major General Briard Johnson’s personal papers is available in the Norwich University Archives.