Dick JohnsonWhen 17-year-old Richard Myles "Dick" Johnson, a high school dropout from a poor Philadelphia family, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1941, he had never even heard of a credit union.

Two weeks after the start of the Korean War, when Johnson was a Marine demolitions officer with a small squad who snuck behind enemy lines to blow up a North Korean train, he only knew credit unions were places where you could borrow money.

Through the Vietnam War and right up to April 1972, when Johnson retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel with 30 years of service, he was still unfamiliar with the inner workings of financial cooperatives. But that didn't stop him from entering a second career with credit unions, one that exercised as much if not more influence on him as did his years of military service.

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