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First Name: Henry

Last Name: Johnson

Birthplace: Alexandria, VA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Date of Birth: 1897

Date of Death: 01 July 1929

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served:
Henry Johnson

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


Henry Johnson
Sergeant, U.S. Army

Henry Johnson was born in 1897 in Alexandria, VA. He moved north to Albany, NY, during his teen years.

Johnson worked as a porter in Albany before joining the 15th New York National Guard Regiment, which later became the 369th Infantry Regiment. The 369th was the first African-American Regiment during World War I. Sent to France along with the Regiment in 1918, Johnson and a fellow soldier came under attack from a raiding party of about 20 Germans. He repelled the attack with uncommon valor and despite being wounded 21 times, rescued his wounded comrade and kept the Germans from getting through the French line.

The French awarded him the Croix de Guerre for this incident, but he received no recognition from the U.S. upon his return. It was not until many years after his death that he was awarded the Purple Heart (in 1996) and the Distinguished Service Cross (in 2003), the Army's second highest award for valor.

The citation for his Distinguished Service Cross reads: "Private Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force. While on a double sentry night duty, Private Johnson and a fellow soldier were attacked by a raiding party of Germans numbering almost twenty, wounding both. When the Germans were within fighting distance, he opened fire, shooting one of them and seriously wounding two more. The Germans continued to advance, and as they were about to be captured, Private Johnson drew his bolo knife from his belt and attacked the Germans in a hand-to-hand encounter. Even though having sustained three grenade and shotgun wounds from the start, Private Johnson went to the rescue of his fellow soldier who was being taken prisoner by the enemy. He kept on fighting until the Germans were chased away. Private Johnson's personal courage and total disregard for his own life reflect great credit upon himself, the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment, the U.S. Army, and the United States of America."

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Cross
Purple Heart

Croix de Guerre with Star and Gold Palm (France)

Death and Burial

Sergeant Henry Johnson died on 1 July 1929 in Albany, NY. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 2682   Created by: MHOH




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