He played a vital role in all three Halo games, providing assistance to John-117 at very opportune times. He is one of the selected few who are acquainted with the Master Chief, after the two fought alongside each other numerous times, though the SPARTAN-II often had to rescue him from enemy capture, or the other way around, as seen in the opening of Halo 3. He also had a strange liking for flip music, which wasn't shared amongst his fellow Marines and subordinates. He was renowned for his "never-say-die" attitude and was well respected and liked amongst his Marines. He died during the Battle of Installation 04 (II), in the hands of John-117 when he shrugged off 343 Guilty Spark's protests against prematurely firing the incomplete Installation 04 (II), and was fatally wounded by the Monitor in retaliation.
Johnson and John-117 are the only known sentient lifeforms whose body has actually come into physical contact with a Flood Infection Form and not been infected, due to his Spartan-I augmentations, which ONI covered up by stating Johnson had contracted Boren's Syndrome.
Avery Junior Johnson was born in the sprawling industrial section of Chicago, Illinois near the Great Lakes of the United States of America. His family broke up when he was six and he was placed in the care of his Aunt by Zone Protective Services. One situation that Johnson had fond memories of, was his first day of church, as his Aunt tried her best to get the large shoes and small clothes of his cousins to fit him. Her religious beliefs resonated deeply within Johnson and often made him question his own decision to kill other human beings, even long after her death. However, he had no qualms about fighting the Covenant and fought actively in several campaigns to protect humanity from their threat.
Johnson enlisted in the UNSC Marine Corps when he was nineteen and was soon thrown into the Insurrection. His name was dubiously associated with dozens of black operations and programs, including assignment to the highly classified unit called ORION Project, which performed "enhancement" procedures on volunteer troops, who would later be referred to as SPARTAN-Is. Johnson was also known to have participated on missions codenamed TANGLEWOOD and KALEIDOSCOPE.
The files that contain the records of his involvement with the ORION Program were subsequently covered up by ONI Section Zero, and anyone who tries to access them is automatically sent a fake file marked "\P_BS48789-2011-AJ.txt", also known as the "Paris/BS Spoof" File. He was a graduate of the Naval Special Warfare Sniper School, where he exceeded the expectations of his superiors, and received training in Human Entry Vehicle orbital drops, and CQB (Close Quarters Battle), while serving in NavSpecWar. He also served as a Squad Leader on many black operations missions during the Insurrection.
In 2524, Johnson participated in Operation: TREBUCHET, leading Alpha Squad of a platoon of NAVSPECWAR Marines alongside Staff Sergeant Nolan Byrne. Their squads used Hornets to conduct air assaults on multiple targets in efforts to eliminate Rebel bomb making factories. However, when a rebel (armed with a bomb) was cornered in a Jim Dandy restaurant, Byrne told Johnson to fire an M99 Special Application Scoped Rifle, (aka Gauss rifle), at an Insurrectionist holding a child hostage. Sgt. Johnson did not have a clear shot at the rebel, and his hesitation led to a civilian (the child's father trying to rescue his son) tackling the female rebel, who then detonated her explosives, which destroyed the Jim Dandy restaurant, along with all of the Marines in Byrne's squad (except Byrne himself), and thirty-eight civilians. Byrne would hold a great deal of animosity towards Johnson for quite some time as a result of this incident.
After the incident, Johnson came home and found his Aunt Marcille dead of natural causes, and soon went on a massive drinking binge. He started a brawl with bouncers at a Chicago club, and ended up in a gutter until he was found by Lieutenant Downs, a UNSC Marine Corps recruiter. He was re-assigned to planet Harvest by Jilan al-Cygni.
Officially, he was re-assigned to train the Colonial Militia on Harvest, but their actual mission was to create a covert anti-insurgency unit, and to lay an ambush on insurgent forces suspected in the disappearances of DCS freighters around Harvest. However, while lying in wait on a bait freighter called This End Up, he and Sergeant Byrne, who was also assigned to the position, fought and defeated four bird-like extraterrestrials in the first official battle between the UNSC and the alliance of alien species known as the Covenant. Johnson and Byrne (with the rest of the militia of Harvest) were also present at the initial negotiations between the Brutes and the humans. They also fought Brute Chieftain Maccabeus, his nephew Tartarus, and several Grunts. He aided Staff Sergeant Byrne and ONI operative Lt. Cdr. Jilan al-Cygni in repelling the Brute ship Rapid Conversion long enough to allow most of the planet's population to escape into the Tiara, a station attached to seven different space elevators stationed on the planet. Later, he would become sexually involved with al-Cygni after escaping from the planet. Although Johnson and al-Cygni seemed quite taken with each other it is unclear whether they formed a relationship, or how long it lasted. After Harvest, his UNSC career is unknown, but he is presumed to have served on many planets between 2525 and 2549, when the Battle of Paris IV took place.
A query by the A.I. Cortana into Johnson's medical history revealed that he had a false condition known as Boren's Syndrome. This disease was supposedly contracted while he was stationed at Paris IV. When the Covenant attacked Paris IV, Johnson fought valiantly; during the battle, he repossessed a crate of Covenant plasma grenades when his troops needed them and used them all against the enemy troops to keep them at bay so his fellow soldiers could evacuate. He received a commendation for bravery, and a twelve-hundred-rad cumulative dose of radiation as an unanticipated "bonus" from all the plasma detonations. However, the Boren's Syndrome apparently had an unexpected side effect, as it made him effectively immune to infection by the sentient alien parasite known as the Flood because the radiation scrambled his nervous system so much that Flood Infection Forms could not force a match. This rendered the Flood unable to control him. However, the Boren's Syndrome story (referred to as the "Paris/BS Spoof"), was a hoax to cover up Johnson's involvement in the ORION Project, and that his immunity to Flood infection is a result of the procedures performed on him to make him a SPARTAN-I.
After the Siege of Paris IV, he was assigned to Reach Station Gamma, an orbital station above the planet Reach, one of Humanity's biggest and most important colonies. While he was stationed there, a massive Covenant armada arrived, starting one of the largest engagements of the Human-Covenant War. During the battle, Johnson led a search and destroy team aboard the station, made up of PFC Wallace Jenkins, and Privates Bisenti and O'Brien. They were almost killed by the attacking Jackals and Elites, but were later picked up by SPARTAN-IIs Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 and Petty Officer Second Class Linda-058.  He escaped onto the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, which fled the battle into Slipspace.
Coming out of Slipspace, the Pillar of Autumn came across a Forerunner creation known as Halo. The Covenant, cautious not to damage the ring world by firing at the Autumn in space, began boarding actions to "cleanly" neutralize the Autumn by boarding the ship and wiping out the crew and altering its course away from the Installation, before planting charges and blowing it up. On board, Johnson helped defend the Autumn from the invading Covenant boarding troops, but like everyone else was forced to abandon ship when Captain Jacob Keyes issued the order. Johnson was reported to be one of the last to leave the ship, ensuring that as many of the ship's crew - Marines and Navy personnel alike - made it off the Autumn as possible.
Sergeant Johnson’s escape pod and his squad successfully landed on the ring with most of his Marines alive. However, as soon as they geared up, Covenant strike teams viciously attacked them. With his platoon scattered all over the valley, he was glad to see SPARTAN-117 coming up to assist in the nick of time..
Johnson and Fire Team Charlie were evacuated by Captain Carol "Foehammer" Rawley, and remained at Alpha Base for some time until asked to join a mission, led by Captain Keyes, into the inner workings of "Installation 04". The crew intercepted a Covenant transmission detailing the transport of numerous weapons to somewhere in the swampy regions of Installation 04. This, as well as a captured Elite's testimony of a large weapons cache located in a swamp, prompted Keyes to investigate. Johnson, being an experienced and respected Marine Sergeant, accompanied the Captain along with his squad.
Shortly after they were dropped off, the squad came across a structure leading underground. As they ventured further into the facility, they came across several Elite corpses with scrambled innards. Passing them off as friendly fire, they proceeded deeper into the facility until they entered a seemingly empty room. Annoyed with Private Manuel Mendoza's paranoia, Johnson shrugged off the situation until massive numbers of Flood Infection Forms barged out of the nearby holding cells and attacked the squad. As each Marine fell, Johnson was forced to attack and kill a few of his own men, who were mutating before his eyes and would have killed him if he had done otherwise. Johnson fought his way out of the nightmare through sheer tenacity and firepower. He was presumed dead after SPARTAN-117 found a helmet recorder entry from Private Jenkins, showing the gory details of the Marines' fates (cutting out due to Jenkins flatlining before showing Johnson's escape), but later escaped after the Master Chief found Corporal Lovik and the remains of his Marine team (Johnson was not seen with the second squad in Halo: The Flood, although in Halo: Combat Evolved his character model sometimes appears for no specific reason).
There is much speculation as to whether the Flood attempted to infect Johnson but he was able to shrug off the effects due to the complications of his Boren's Syndrome, or if he was never infected at all and simply fought his way out. The Halo Graphic Novel story Breaking Quarantine, as well as page 122 of the same book, seems to indicate he was never infected, though it may have occurred before the story began.
Johnson met up with Lt. Elias Haverson, Cpl. Locklear, and PO2 Sheila Polaski, after escaping Halo's destruction in a Pelican, moments before it collapsed in multiple explosions. Polaski piloted the dropship away from the ring, meeting up with a C709 Longsword-class Starfighter carrying the Master Chief and Cortana, who had also escaped the Flood and Halo. Having seen Jenkins’ video himself, SPARTAN-117 was alarmed by Johnson’s appearance and promptly pulled Johnson's own M6D Pistol and pointed it to his head. Johnson had expressed no objection, and assured the Spartan that he was fine, although it took Cortana's intervention to convince the Chief that Johnson was still human.
Without a viable way to return to the nearest safe outpost, it was decided that the new crew would take over the nearest Covenant ship in the vicinity, the Ascendant Justice a Covenant capital flagship. The Master Chief assumed command due to his higher-priority mission, although Lieutenant Haverson was the ranking officer, and Johnson assisted Master Chief by helping him assert control over Corporal Locklear and Haverson. After they boarded the Ascendant Justice, Johnson and the others made their way through the ship towards the bridge, where he witnessed a showdown between the Master Chief and a Sangheili, where he brought down the alien’s shields in order for SPARTAN-117 to push the Elite into an escape pod and send it away from the ship.
After they had captured the Covenant ship, not being able to return to Earth because of the Cole Protocol, Master Chief suggested they return to Reach to regroup. They proceeded with this plan despite protests that Reach was almost certainly a dead world. When they arrived at Reach, the planet was almost completely glassed, except for a small portion. Using a Covenant dropship, they traveled to the surface of the desecrated planet, where Johnson was becoming nervous. After they landed, they found the surviving SPARTAN-IIs and Dr. Catherine Halsey. Johnson was the first to realize that they were surrounded by thousands of invisible Covenant, and pointed it out to Vice Admiral Whitcomb before their dropship walked into the trap.
After a harrowing escape, Johnson accompanied the new and growing crew as the ship moved through Slipspace. Unknown to him, Dr. Halsey and the Master Chief were reviewing his medical files. They matched Johnson’s survival against the Flood to his Boren’s Syndrome: Flood DNA was present in Johnson’s blood, but it was dormant and non-infectious. Halsey also confirmed that Johnson had gained some unique regenerative abilities as a side effect from the attempted assimilation back on Halo when they accidentally opened the Flood Containment Facility. Halsey had prepared two separate documents for ONI Section Three to review:
Halsey placed the decision of which data crystal to give to ONI in the Chief's hands. If he gave them the first crystal, ONI would probably have dissected Johnson in an attempt to figure out how he resisted the Flood, killing the Sergeant. The Chief had thought at first that the first crystal held the better solution, despite it essentially being a death sentence for his friend, but later decided to save Johnson's life by crushing the first crystal.
Although Johnson's involvement in Operation: FIRST STRIKE was minimal, he came up with the idea to attack the Covenant space station Unyielding Hierophant in order to delay the Covenant from finding Earth. Johnson continued to be of assistance when the Spartans began the mission, staying behind with Cortana in the damaged UNSC Gettysburg while they charged head-on into the Covenant ship after the operation.
Most of the crew returned to Earth safely, and they were given time to rest and were debriefed on their experiences. Aboard Cairo orbital station, Johnson was promoted to Sergeant Major and was awarded the Colonial Cross by Lord Terrence Hood for his actions on Halo. During the ceremony, a Covenant excavation fleet headed by the Prophet of Regret arrived at the Human homeworld, sparking the Battle of Earth.
Johnson aided in the defense of the Cairo along with John-117. As the Spartan led the human forces deeper into the station, Johnson and Commander Miranda Keyes, the daughter of the deceased Jacob Keyes, boarded the UNSC Frigate In Amber Clad.
As they arrived on the surface, Cortana intercepted data that pointed towards one of the Covenant’s spiritual leaders being present in the invasion. Johnson led Pelicans full of marines into battle, but they were shot down by a Covenant Scarab before they got close to the ship that carried the High Prophet of Regret. Wielding a sniper rifle, Johnson fought in the residential district of the city, providing cover fire and serving as a lookout. As the Master Chief went on to find Marines from another downed Pelican, Johnson stayed back and joined the rescue units to provide cover. Viewing the Scarab as a threat to the mission, he returned to In Amber Clad to bring a Scorpion tank for the Chief to use in a front line assault against the Covenant invasion force.
After the destruction of the Scarab, Johnson picked up the Chief and brought him back into In Amber Clad, which pulled up next to the massive Covenant ship just as it took off into Slipspace, the human vessel being close enough to "piggyback" along on the same jump.
Coming out of Slipspace, Johnson was shocked to learn that there was another Halo, nearly choking on his ever-present cigar. Determined to find and capture the Prophet of Regret, Commander Keyes ordered SPARTAN-117 to clear a landing zone and the Sergeant to take two flights of Pelicans and land on the ring. Johnson carried out the orders and followed the Chief and a small detachment of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers onto the surface, providing artillery and troops by means of dropships to fight the Covenant stationed in the ring’s ancient temples.
During the mission, Cortana translated a message from Regret being broadcast on the Covenant network, and learned that Regret planned to activate the Halo, which would wipe out all life in the galaxy. Pulling information gathered from the first Halo, Keyes found the location of Delta Halo’s library, housing the Index which was needed to activate the ring. She ordered Johnson to extract his troops and return to In Amber Clad for reassignment.
Johnson and a group of his best Marines joined Commander Keyes on a search for the Index. As they neared the centre of the massive structure, the small unit was attacked by a large amount of Flood. They dug in and fought the creatures off, finally locating the Index. Johnson helped Keyes grab the key, but before they headed out, they were attacked by Thel 'Vadamee, the Covenant Arbiter, who had activated his camouflage to hide from the Humans. Johnson was quickly incapacitated and captured by the Brute Chieftain Tartarus, and brought to the Covenant capital city, High Charity.
Johnson and Keyes were held in the Covenant city of High Charity, until the High Prophet of Truth instructed Tartarus to activate the ring and initiate the Great Journey. Tartarus ordered his Jiralhanae to split Johnson, Keyes, and the captured Oracle into two different Phantoms. Johnson was joined by Staff Sergeant Marcus Banks and Gunnery Sergeant Pete Stacker for an execution by a pack of Jiralhanae. Moments before their deaths, the Arbiter and his squad burst out of the nearby structure and attacked the Jiralhanae, distracting them long enough for Johnson and his Marines to board the nearby Scarab walker.
After the executioners were killed, Johnson and his Marines commandeered the Scarab, and confronted 'Vadamee. They both agreed that Tartarus needed to be stopped. Johnson suggested that 'Vadamee commandeer a Banshee to provide air support. After that, they joined forces and travelled through the canyon towards the Control Room. Knowing the brute strength of the Scarab's main weapon, Johnson fired at the heavily armored door, shattering it with ease. Arming himself with a Particle Beam Rifle, Johnson followed the Arbiter inside alone.
He arrived during the Arbiter's confrontation with Tartarus. He aimed his Beam Rifle at the Jiralhanae’s head, keeping him from forcing Keyes to insert the Index. Tartarus threw 343 Guilty Spark at Johnson, knocking him over. Swiftly, he forced Miranda Keyes to insert the Index into the control panel, starting the firing process. The Arbiter and his squad of Elites challenged Tartarus, and Johnson provided backup, using his Beam Rifle to bring down the Chieftain’s shields. With his shields down, 'Vadamee was able to kill Tartarus, thereby allowing Keyes to grab the Index and stop the Halo array from firing.
With the remainder of the Sangheili squad keeping the area secure, 343 Guilty Spark explained to Johnson, Keyes, and 'Vadamee that the other Installations were in a sort of "standby mode", still ready to fire. This is a fail-safe if one of the Halo installations misfires. This allowed them all to be activated remotely from "the Ark".
During the Arrival of Truth's Fleet, an ODST Squad managed to capture a Huragok. Avery Johnson, with clearance from Lord Hood interrogated the Huragok to find out what Truth was searching in New Mombasa, as he was "digging a mighty big hole.". It is later implied that the Huragok revealed the object was The Ark.
When John-117 crash-landed on Earth, he was met by Johnson, the Arbiter, and a squad of Marines. After a few minutes of hiking through the jungle, he and his squad split off from the Master Chief and the Arbiter after encountering enemy Phantoms, reasoning that they would be safer apart than together. Johnson and his team proceeded to continue through the woods, and arrived at the evacuation site several moments before John-117 and 'Vadam. However, enemy Banshees soon discovered the awaiting Pelicans, and he was shot down, crash landing about a kilometer away. He and the surviving Marines were forced to flee pursuing Brutes. At some point Johnson and his men were captured. After being freed by the Spartan, he grabbed the nearest weapon and helped fend off incoming Covenant until Hocus, a Pelican pilot, came to the rescue. Hocus eventually arrived, destroying two Phantoms that were pinning Sergeant Johnson, the Chief, the Arbiter, and the surviving Marines down. Johnson was evacuated along with the Master Chief, the Arbiter, and surviving Marines.
Sgt. Johnson, John-117, and 'Vadam were brought to a UNSC base codenamed Crow's Nest, deep underground in the African jungle. There, they linked up with Commander Miranda Keyes, who briefed them on the situation. Johnson and the Arbiter stayed behind to defend the ops center from Covenant attacks, while the Master Chief went off to secure the perimeter. After a lengthy battle, he was forced to fall back as Jiralhanae overran the control room. He rendezvoused with Keyes and 'Vadam in a Pelican, and guided the Chief through the base to an elevator that would take him to the Pelicans. Unfortunately, the base exploded before the Chief could reach Johnson, forcing the Sergeant to leave him to meet up with Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds under the base instead.
Johnson warned the Chief that the Covenant had uncovered what he thought was the Ark, and that the Humans had to get to it. Johnson provided air support for the Spartan and the Marine survivors, dropping off Warthogs so the Chief and his Marines could break through the Jiralhanae blockades. At one point, he dropped off several Mongoose ATVs to assist the Master Chief in destroying a Covenant Scarab. Johnson remained in a Pelican dropship for most, if not all of the Battle of Voi, dispersing armor and troops throughout the city as necessary to help push the Covenant back. When the Pelican made a crash-landing in Voi, Johnson probably docked on the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn along with Commander Keyes. He was present when the Master Chief retrieved a message from Cortana, who had been left behind on the Flood-infested High Charity. Johnson was one of the Marines that followed the High Prophet of Truth to the real Ark, which was located past the portal generated by the device the Covenant uncovered on Earth.
Johnson descended to the Ark with a half a dozen Pelicans along with the Master Chief, and helped him secure a landing zone and stop the construction of an AA battery. He later brought in a platoon of Marines lead by Gunnery Sergeant Stacker, and some tanks from the frigate, helping throughout the mission, until the location of Truth was discovered from the Cartographer.
He then went on to command the second squad in taking down the third tower that was projecting the shield barrier protecting Truth in the Citadel. There, he, along with his squad, were overrun and captured by overwhelming Brute, Hunter and Drone forces. Johnson's squad was killed, and he was brought to the Citadel.
The Prophet of Truth attempted to use Johnson to activate the Ark, and set off the Halo array, but he only taunted the Jiralhanae, in particular a Chieftain, in hopes of angering the Brute to the point where he would kill him, and deny Truth the ability to activate the array. Miranda Keyes attempted to rescue him by crashing a Pelican through a large observatory window. Keyes was able to kill one brute, a Chieftain, and fatally wounded another, but was surrounded. Realizing what the Prophet of Truth wished to use them for, Johnson told her that she should kill them both so they could not be used. While Keyes hesitated, Truth shot her in the back with a Spiker, killing her instantly. Johnson was rescued by John-117 and Thel 'Vadam, along with a horde of Flood. After the Master Chief deactivated the array, the Flood turned on the three, and while Johnson managed to escape on Keyes' Pelican, the Chief and the Arbiter were knocked off by the Gravemind, forced to fight their way back through the Flood.
After it was discovered that a Halo was located within the Ark, a plan was developed to activate that ring and that ring alone, which would destroy the Flood on the Ark, including the Gravemind, ending their threat once and for all, while simultaneously sparing the rest of the life in the galaxy. This was possible because Cortana still held within her the code to the Index from Installation 04, the first Halo. After John-117 invaded High Charity to recover Cortana, destroying the city on his way out, Sergeant Johnson helped the Master Chief and the Arbiter fight through hordes of Flood to get to the control room of the new Halo, providing cover fire with a Spartan Laser. Johnson tried to activate the ring despite 343 Guilty Spark's suggestion that they wait for it to be finished, which could take several days. Realizing that "his" ring was about to be destroyed again, the Monitor turned on his allies, firing his sentinel beam into Johnson's front armor piece and fatally wounding him.
While the Master Chief fought the rogue construct, Johnson used the last of his life and fired his laser, rendering Spark vulnerable. With a few choice words, "Kick his ass", he handed the Chief his weapon and fell unconscious. After the rogue AI was destroyed, Johnson gave John-117 the chip containing Cortana, and told him "Don't ever let her go". Despite John's promise that they would not leave him behind, the dying Johnson knew that he wasn't going to make it, requesting that the Chief "send [him] out with a 'bang'" before dying of his injuries. Following his wishes, John-117 left his body in the Control Room as the ring activated, its unfinished state meaning that the activation sequence tore itself apart. Johnson's body was disintegrated in the explosion while Chief and Thel 'Vadam took Johnson's Warthog to escape on the Forward Unto Dawn. Johnson's death brought condolences from Cortana and Thel 'Vadam, whom Johnson aided in his fight against Tartarus.
Avery Johnson's behavior seems to be eccentric, often delivering outlandish speeches to boost the morale of those serving under him. However, as shown in Contact Harvest, when it came down to it, he was a no-nonsense NCO, who, although caring deeply for his troops, pushed them hard during training.
Another seemingly peculiar aspect of his behavior is that he never considered John-117 or any of the other SPARTAN-IIs "Section Three freaks" or "Inhuman cyborgs". He has a large amount of respect for them, and appears to respect every human fighting for humanity, as well as the Elites, once they join forces with the UNSC in Halo 3. In return, Thel 'Vadam respects him as well as after his death, saying sorrowfully to John, "I am sorry, Spartan" and "Even in death, your sergeant guides us all."
In Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, Johnson seemed energetic and well humored, often cracking jokes, puns, and insults at the expense of the Covenant or even in response to UNSC transmissions, as shown in the following quote:
In Halo 3, his serious side is seen more often, and he seems to fight more for the sake of getting it done, rather than enjoying himself as he did in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. This may be due to age, his encounters with the Flood, or the Human-Covenant War finally taking its toll on him.
Johnson has received three known medals in his service: The Medal of Honor, the Colonial Cross and the Purple Heart. Johnson was not awarded any medals during his time with the ORION detachment, due to the sensitive nature of its missions.
Johnson in the Halo Graphic Novel.
Johnson and an Elite halt their battle when they notice the Pillar of Autumn about to explode in the non-canon extended ending of Halo: Combat Evolved.
Johnson and John-117 fight off Covenant forces on the surface of Installation 04
|James Lee • Gilly • Morales • Gladys Swanson • Avery Junior Johnson • Franklin Mendez? • Nolan Byrne?|