Tag Archives: the wall

A Friend “Never Forgotten”

31 Dec

A Friend “Never Forgotten”

A Nam Era Story, Told at The Wall

May 24, 2014

7D1_5922tPhotos by: J. Michael Johnson
Words by:     Richard Yaras and
                     J. Michael Johnson
                     Copyrighted 2014

“A Friend “Never Forgotten”

The words of Richard M Yaras and my photos tell the story of what happened in front of the Wall (Vietnam Veterans Memorial) during Rolling Thunder XXVII.

Approximately 9:50 am, Saturday morning May 24, 2014, I walked into the depth and quietness of the Wall from the west entrance, I had no idea that when I photographed a tall unknown veteran in red hat, black jacket and boots visiting names on the Wall, that I would once again photograph this “Nam Era” veteran, shaking hands with Richard Yaras, a biker who had ridden his Harley almost a 1000’s miles to place a pair of paratrooper’s boots down at Panel 16E in front of a friend’s name, now frozen forever in the black granite of the Wall.

After returning home from Rolling Thunder, I received the following e-mail from Richard Yaras, which explains in his own words, the events I photographed that Saturday morning at the Wall.                            by J. Michael Johnson




Paratrooper Boots, My Story
Fri, May 30, 2014 9:40 pm

From: RICHARD YARAS  yaras7280@gmail.com
to:  jmjphoto@aol.com

I always wanted to ride my Harley to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. This year I was lucky enough to be invited to ride with the members of our local Rolling Thunder chapter 4 from Jacksonville Fl.

I bought my first Harley, a 1966 XLCH in September of 1965. When Robert Michael Cartwright, called Mike by family and friends, came home on leave before being deployed to Vietnam we were able to spend time together riding our bikes and raising a little hell. Before he left for Nam he gave me his jump boots to wear when I rode. I have kept those boots on display in my den for 48 years. I was torn over keeping the boots or returning them to Mike. My decision was to return them to Mike. As I placed them at the Wall a member of Rolling Thunder was standing beside me. Someone I didn’t know. He extended his hand to me and gave me a hug. Then he asked me if I would like a pin to place with the boots. After I attached the pin to the note I had put inside the boots he gave me another one to wear on my vest. That’s what you call Brotherhood and that’s what the ride to the wall is all about.                   Sincerely  Richard M Yaras







“The Nam Era: Never Forgotten”

25 Dec

“The Nam Era: Never Forgotten
by J. Michael Johnson




“The Nam Era: Never Forgotten”

“The Nam Era: Never Forgotten” exhibit
opened June 25th and continued through August 15, 2013
at the Pickens County Museum of Art and History 

Artist Statement:

“The Nam Era: Never Forgotten”, is a veterans photo tribute I started in 1997 at “The Wall” (The Vietnam Veterans Memorial) in Washington, DC, which shows us “Freedom Is Not Free”, as another part of my photojournalist journey into the motorcycle lifestyle that is so often shied away from by so many civilians and journalists.

The early Sunday morning walks into the depth and quietness of “The Wall” lets me digital capture veterans visiting names on “The Wall” that represents the real “Human Cost of Freedom”. The names of young boys and girls growing up to fast, fighting a war on foreign soils and in so many cases giving their lives fighting for American freedom in a land that some say God forgot, “Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia”. These digital images shows friends and family members touching loved ones names on “The Wall” and getting a rubbing of the name so they can remember, honor and keep their loved ones memory alive and remind us that we still have POW-MIA’s, in “Vietnam”. Part of this exhibit is still in my head because I had to make a decisions when to let an award winning image go because a Vietnam vet’s personal privacy was much more important than a photo.

Being a freelance journalist for Easyriders magazine allows me to journey to “The Wall” to meet, photograph and document stories told by Vietnam Veterans their friends, families and veterans of other wars each Memorial Day weekend during Rolling Thunder events in Washington DC .

I am traditionally focused on the Harley-Davidson motorcycles and their riders as they cruise up and down Daytona’s Main Street. But today, I am pleased to present this selections of “The Nam Era: Never Forgotten”, digital prints for your viewing pleasure. Remember; thank a veteran for your freedom.                                           J. Michael Johnson



“INK Beneath the Skin: A Private Collection of Body Art”

6 Mar

“INK Beneath the Skin: A Private Collection of Body Art”
byJ. Michael Johnson


Opened June 25th and continued through August 18th, 2011
At the Pickens County Museum of Art & History

Artist Statement:

“Ink Beneath The Skin: A Private Collection of Body Art”, shows an individual’s personal freedom statement to use their bodies as an art canvas.  For me, it is a part of my photojournalist journey into the motorcycle lifestyle that is so often shied away from by so many civilians and journalists.

Being a freelance journalist for Easyriders Magazine allows me to meet and photograph the tattoos and body piercings that decorate bikers, biker ladies and civilians’ bodies from all over the world in one of my favorite open air studios – Main Street Daytona Beach Florida. What fascinates me the most is that these individuals are from all walks of life and they proudly show me their skin art by removing articles of clothing for me to get that special photo?  Two of my favorites are an American Eagle with the U.S. Flag across a lovely lady’s chest and the Last Supper proudly worn across a biker’s middle section.

I, have historical focused on the Harley-Davidson motorcycles and their riders as they cruise up and down Main Street.  These selections of “Ink Beneath the Skin” images speaks as a culture with-in a society that stands alone as an expression of America’s freedom.


J. Michael was born and raised in East Tennessee and has lived in the southeast United States all his life. He began taking images and working in his darkroom over thirty years ago.  J. Michael’s love of photographing the motorcycle lifestyle and other subjects, and his self-taught methods along with formal courses and in-field seminars with nationally known photographers, have truly defined the subjects he has photographed and written about over the years. These experiences have provided a collection of work that documents bikers and biker ladies riding on Daytona’s Main Street along with the serious side of these riders as they remember the Vietnam era. He captures the images the general public never hears about or sees. J. Michael’s color and black and white photographs capture the Spirit of America and its precious Freedom of Speech. Many of J. Michael’s fine art prints are in private collections.

Since 1997, J. Michael’s photographic and written work about Daytona’s Bike Week, as well as many other motorcycle rallies and events, has been featured many times in “Easyriders”, “Biker” and “In The Wind” magazines. Lehman Trikes of Canada has published J. Michael’s work in their Pride Matters magazine. He has provided commercial photography services to various companies in the motorcycle industry. His renown in motorcycle lifestyle photography has resulted in his giving slide shows to numerous motorcycle clubs, churches and civic groups. His most requested images are of the Vietnam veterans visiting the “Moving Wall” and the “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” in Washington DC during “Rolling Thunder” events.


The Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg SC, presented J. Michael’s “Freedom, In Memory Of Those Who Gave All” Vietnam Era images as a significant part of their “Moving Sculpture 2004, Art of the Motorcycle World” show.  In April 2004, the museum presented this exhibit as a solo show until September 2004 before moving a portion of this collection to the “Art of the Upstate” gallery in the Greenville/Spartanburg International Airport where it stayed until the end of October 2004.Then in May 2007 the Spartanburg Art Museum presented his Bikers: Expression of Freedom a collection of over 120 biker lifestyle and Vietnam Era Images.

The Pickens County Museum showed J. Michael’s Tree-0456, which received a Juror’s Choice Award in there Thirty-Second Annual Juried South Carolina Artists Exhibition, April 30th through June 9th, 2011.

J. Michael is the co-founder of the Spartanburg Photo Guild, a member of the American Image Press/Today’s Photographer Magazine, and served two terms on the Board of Trustees, of The Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg South Carolina.

J. Michael travels to many motorcycle rallies and events and other special places each year. Everyone is welcome to visit J. Michael’s web site JMichael.smugmug.com to see where his photographic travels have taken him recently

 J. Michael Johnson
864-979-6046   phone
Email:    jmjphoto@aol.com
Web Site:   JMichael.smugmug.com