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First Name: Gordon

Last Name: Johnston

Birthplace: Birmingham, AL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Date of Birth: 25 May 1874

Date of Death: 08 March 1934

Rank: Colonel

Years Served: 1898 - 1929
Gordon Johnston

•  Spanish-American War (1898)
•  Philippine-American War (1899 - 1902)
•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


Gordon Johnston
Colonel, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Philippine-American War

Gordon Johnston was an American soldier, football player, and coach. He played at the tackle position for Princeton University and served as Head Coach of the University of North Carolina football team in 1896. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War, the Philippine-American War and World War I, and received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Philippine-American War.

Gordon Johnston was born on 25 May 1874, the only son of Confederate General Robert Daniel Johnston, and was born in "the old home" near Birmingham, AL. After graduating from Birmingham High School, Johnston enrolled at Princeton University in New Jersey. While attending the University, Johnston played college football as a tackle for two years in 1894-95. Football historian Parke H. Davis described Johnston as a "high spirited, fleetfooted, dashing" football player at Princeton. Johnston became a member of The Tiger Inn. He graduated from Princeton in 1896 and later that year became the head football coach of the University of North Carolina football team.

In 1896, he also worked in the insurance business as a member of the Johnston & Badham firm in North Carolina. From 1897-98, he was associated with the Buck Johnston Abstract Co. in Memphis, TN.

Military Career

In 1898, Johnston enlisted in the U.S. Army to fight in the Spanish-American War, serving in Cuba with the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, better known as the Rough Riders. After a brief return to civilian life, he was offered a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army in 1899 on the recommendation of Theodore Roosevelt.

Johnston was posted to the Philippines where he served with the 43rd Infantry Regiment in the Philippine-American War. On 1 February 1900, Johnston's actions as the leader of a small detachment of scouts earned him the nation's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross. The citation states: "... Lieutenant Johnston displayed remarkable gallantry and leadership in charging a greatly superior force of entrenched insurgents in the face of cannon and rifle fire, driving the enemy from their position and capturing the town of Palo."

Johnston returned to the U.S. where he was the honor graduate in 1903 from the U.S. Army's Infantry and Cavalry school. In 1904, he married Anna Julia Johnson in Baltimore, MD.

He returned to the Philippines as a First Lieutenant in the Signal Corps with the 6th Infantry Regiment. On 7 March 1906, Johnston distinguished himself under heavy fire in the First Battle of Bud Dajo, where he was severely wounded. For his actions in this battle, Johnson received the Medal of Honor.

Johnston went on to lead a distinguished career in the Army, rising to the rank of Colonel. He later earned the Distinguished Service Medal for his work as Chief of Staff for the 82nd Infantry Division during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of World War I.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal (3 Awards)
Purple Heart
Officer of the Legion of Honor (France)

Medal of Honor Citation:

"Voluntarily took part in and was dangerously wounded during an assault on the enemy's works."


Camp Gordon Johnston in Carrabelle, FL, was named in his honor.

Death and Burial

Colonel Gordon Johnston died in a polo accident on 8 March 1934. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 79   Created by: MHOH




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