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First Name: James

Last Name: Johnson

Birthplace: Pocatello, ID, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Edmund

Date of Birth: 01 January 1926

Date of Death: 02 November 1953 (Official)

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1943-1946, 1948-1950
James Edmund Johnson

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


James Edmund Johnson
Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
Korean War

James Edmund Johnson was born in Pocatello, ID, on 1 January 1926. He attended public schools there and played junior varsity basketball for two years in high school before enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps on 10 November 1943.

After serving in the Pacific theater during World War II and at San Diego, he was discharged on 7 February 1946, and returned to Pocatello, where he worked as a machinist in the Naval Ordnance plant. He also attended Western Washington College in Bellingham, WA, before re-enlisting in the Marines on 13 January 1948. He embarked for Korea after a year as an instructor in Post Exchange accounting at the Marine Corps Institute, Marine Barracks, 8th and I Streets, S.E., Washington, DC.

Sergeant Johnson departed for Korea in August 1950, just five days after the birth of his daughter. On 2 December 1950 in Yudam-ni, Korea, Sergeant Johnson heroically fought against a disguised enemy force that was wearing the uniforms of friendly troops. This allowed his unit to successfully withdraw and saved the lives of many. He was one of many who lost their lives in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir and whose remains were never recovered.

Although Sergeant Johnson was serving with a provisional company of the 7th Marines when he earned the Medal of Honor, his regular outfit was the 11th Marines, the same regiment his father had served in during World War I.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, Company J, 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein.)

Place and date: Yudam-ni, Korea, 2 December 1950 (declared missing in action on 2 December 1950, and killed in action as of 2 November 1953.

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Squad Leader in a Provisional Rifle Platoon composed of Artillery men and attached to Company J, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces at Yudam-ni, Korea, on 2 December 1950. Vastly outnumbered by a well-entrenched and cleverly concealed enemy force wearing the uniforms of friendly troops and attacking his platoon's open and unconcealed positions, Sergeant Johnson unhesitatingly took charge of his platoon in the absence of the leader and exhibiting great personal valor in the face of a heavy barrage of hostile fire, coolly proceeded to move about among his men, shouting words of encouragement and inspiration and skillfully directing their fire. Ordered to displace his platoon during the fire fight, he immediately placed himself in an extremely hazardous position from which he could provide covering fire for his men. Fully aware that his voluntary action meant either certain death or capture to himself, he courageously continued to provide effective cover for his men and was last observed in a wounded condition single-handedly engaging enemy troops in close hand grenade and hand-to-hand fighting. By his valiant and inspiring leadership, Sergeant Johnson was directly responsible for the successful completion of the platoon's displacement and the saving of many lives. His dauntless fighting spirit and unfaltering devotion to duty in the face of terrific odds reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

The Medal of Honor was presented to his widow on 29 March 1954 by Secretary of the Navy Robert B. Anderson. Medals of Honor were presented in the same Pentagon ceremony to the families of Sgt Daniel P. Matthews and Cpl Lee H. Phillips. Sergeant Johnson was the seventh Marine awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Korea.

Other Medals and Awards

In addition to the Medal of Honor, Sergeant Johnson was awarded the following:

Purple Heart
Presidential Unit Citation with 1 Bronze Star
Korean Service Medal with 3 Bronze Stars
Navy Unit Commendation
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia Clasp

He was also an alumnus of Sigma Tau Gamma National Fraternity.

Death & Memorials

Sergeant Johnson's remains were never found. A cenotaph "Memorial Marker" for him is located in Memorial Section H, Lot 451, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA. That marker lists his date of death as 2 November 1953.

His name is also inscribed on the Wall of the Missing at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, HI. 

Honoree ID: 1177   Created by: MHOH




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