World War I Hero Featured in New AUSA Graphic Novel
via the Association of the United States Army web site
Sgt. Henry Johnson, a member of the famed “Harlem Hellfighters,” is the subject of the newest graphic novel in the Association of the U.S. Army’s series highlighting Medal of Honor recipients.
Medal of Honor: Henry Johnson features the story of Johnson, who served on the Western Front of World War I with the 369th Infantry Regiment, an African American unit that later became known as the “Harlem Hellfighters.”
While on sentry duty, Johnson fought off a German raiding party in hand-to-hand combat, despite being seriously wounded. He was the first American to receive a Croix de Guerre with a golden palm, France’s highest award for bravery, and became a national hero back home.
“Henry Johnson was a household name during World War I, but he has been largely forgotten since then,” said Joseph Craig, director of AUSA’s Book Program. “It took almost a century to recognize his remarkable deeds with the Medal of Honor, and we are excited to share them with a new audience.”
AUSA launched its Medal of Honor graphic novel series in October 2018, producing four issues and a paperback collection. Four new issues are planned for this year; the first, on World War II hero 2nd Lt. Daniel Inouye, was released May 28.
On May 15, 1918, Johnson, then a private with Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, was on night sentry duty with fellow soldier Pvt. Neadom Roberts when they were attacked by a German raiding party of at least 12 soldiers, according to his Medal of Honor citation.
Under intense enemy fire and despite “significant wounds,” Johnson fought back and caused several enemy casualties. He also prevented a badly wounded Roberts from being taken prisoner by German troops.
Johnson then exposed himself to “grave danger” by advancing from his position to engage an enemy soldier in hand-to-hand combat.
“Wielding only a knife and gravely wounded himself, Private Johnson continued fighting and took his Bolo knife and stabbed it through an enemy soldier’s head,” according to the citation. “Displaying great courage, Private Johnson held back the enemy force until they retreated.”
After returning home from the war, Johnson was unable to return to his pre-war job as a redcap porter at Union Station in Albany, New York, because of the severity of his 21 combat wounds. He died in July 1929 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Johnson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002. The award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 2015.
Read more: WWI Hero Featured in New AUSA Graphic Novel
South Carolina Public Radio replays World War I programs
In July, South Carolina Public Radio replays three programs about World War I and South Carolina, hosted by Dr. Walter Edgar. The replays can be listened to online.
"Fighting on Two Fronts: Black South Carolinians in World War I" features Dr. Janet Hudson from the University of South Carolina joining Dr. Edgar for a public Conversation on Black South Carolinian in World War I. Upon the United States' entrance into World War I, President Woodrow Wilson told the nation that the war was being fought to "make the world safe for democracy." For many African-American South Carolinians, the chance to fight in this war was a way to prove their citizenship, in hopes of changing things for the better at home. Click here to read more, and listen to the replay.
"South Carolina in WWI: The Military" Dr. Andrew Myers from the University of South Carolina Upstate joining Dr. Edgar for a public Conversation on South Carolina History, World War I. With the United States’ entrance into World War I, three Army training bases were set up in South Carolina. The social and economic impact on a state still suffering from the devastation of the Civil War was dramatic. Three infantry divisions, including support personnel, swelled the Upstate and Midlands population by 90,000. On the coast, recruits flocked to Charleston’s Navy base. And some of those trainees were African Americans, which caused political turmoil and civil strife in a Jim Crow state. Click here to read more, and listen to the replay.
"Conversations on S.C. History: Women and World War I" features Dr. Amy McCandless, professor emerita of history at the College of Charleston, joining Dr. Edgar for a public conversation on S.C. Women during the war. Prior to that World War I, South Carolina was a predominantly rural state, with a Black majority populaltion. The typical S.C. woman in 1916 was Black, and, if she was employed, she was likely an agricultural worker or a domestic worker. If she was White, a working woman was likely on the farm or in a textile mill. There was a quite small middle class where working women might be employed as teachers or a nurses; a few were clerical workers. The United States' entry into World War I offered women, White and Black, new opportunities. Click here to read more, and listen to the replay.
Dr. Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio. He received his A.B. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the Army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens. In 1972 he joined the faculty of the History Department and in 1980 was named director of the Institute for Southern Studies. Dr. Edgar is the Claude Henry Neuffer Professor of Southern Studies and the George Washington Distinguished Professor of History. He retired from USC in 2012. He has written or edited numerous books about South Carolina and the American South.