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WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Longtime Texas Rep. Sam Johnson has announced that he will retire at the end of his term in 2018.

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Johnson, 86, was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and Korea before his election to Congress in 1990. He spent seven years as a prisoner of war in the notorious Hanoi Hilton.


On Capitol Hill, the Republican has been a stalwart conservative as a fierce defender of gun rights, an opponent of tax increases, and a hawk on military matters. He attracted attention recently when he introduced legislation to curb Social Security benefits.

Johnson has slowed in recent years, and told supporters that “the Lord has made clear that the season of my life in Congress is coming to an end.”

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Speaker Paul Ryan called Johnson “the greatest living man I know.”

Fellow Texas lawmaker Rep. Jeb Hensarling released a statement that said, “My heart felt a little heavy today when I learned of Sam Johnson’s plans to retire. … Very few have dedicated their lives to the service of our great nation the way Sam has, and his shoes will be hard to fill.”

In another statement, Sen. John Cornyn added, “Having worked closely with Sam on a number of issues for North Texans over the years, I’m lucky to call him a good friend. I will continue to rely on his expertise in the House over the next two years, and I look forward to hearing about his next adventure.”

 Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement saying:

“Congressman Sam Johnson’s unwavering service to this country will be remembered long after he leaves Washington. While many will remember Rep. Johnson for his tireless work on the Ways and Means Committee and his time in the House of Representatives, Texans will also remember him for his military service to our nation, his sacrifice as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam and his commitment to helping our veterans. Cecilia and I wish him the best in his retirement and thank him for his selfless service to the State of Texas.”

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