Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Henry Johnson. Henry served during World War I from 1917 to 1919.
Henry Johnson was born in 1892 in Winstom-Salem, North Carolina. Henry grew up in North Carolina but moved to New York as a teenager. He worked various jobs such as a soda mixer, chauffeur, laborer in a coal yard, and redcap porter. He enlisted in the Army in 1917 and was assigned to an all-black National Guard unit that would later be named the 369th Infantry Regiment. The 369th Infantry Regiment was sent to France, where they were brigaded with a French Army colonial unit in France’s Champagne region on the western edges of the Argonne Forest.
On May 15, 1918, Henry was on sentry duty when a German sniper opened fire from fifty yards away as part of a surprise attack consisting of approximately 12 German soldiers. Henry then set up a row of 30 hand grenades to fight of the attack. The German soldiers attempted to take a fellow soldier prisoner, however Henry fought back and defeated their attempts. When the grenades were exhausted, Henry attempted to insert his American ammunition into a French rifle but caused it to jam. He then began to use his bolo knife to defend himself and engaged in fierce hand-to-hand combat. His actions held back the German soldiers and prevented them from capturing any American soldiers.
Henry sustained a total of 21 combat injuries and was forced to return home in 1919. In 1929, Henry passed away and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Henry was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1996 and Distinguished Service Cross in 2002. In 2015, President Barack Obama presented the Medal of Honor to Command Sergeant Major Louis Wilson on Henry’s behalf for Henry’s actions in France.
We honor his service.
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Graphic by Cynthia Tong: Cynthia is a senior at New York University studying Public Policy.