Veteran awarded Medal of Honor nearly 100 years too late

Sergeant Henry Johnson, a World War One veteran, is to receive the US military’s highest honor – the Medal of Honor.

Henry actually died in 1929 and it is not until now that President Obama has announced that Henry will be awarded the honor in June this year.

Henry was of African-American origin and it was because of his colour and race that he had never received the award. But during World War One Henry had shown courage and bravery that any other soldier would have been awarded for.

Henry had served in the segregated division of the US Army during the war, and returned to America once it ended. He died just over 10 years later sad and without any money. US Senator Chuck Schumer took over the campaign and finally pushed it through Congress and other administrative hurdles. He says that John will be looking down from heaven happy knowing that Henry will finally be recognized.

For 30 years a campaign has been running to lobby for Henry to receive the honor. One of the leaders of the campaign was John Howe, a Vietnam War veteran who died in 2005.

Henry was originally from Albany, and when he was on duty with the 369th Infantry in France he held off an enemy battalion all on his own. They fought under French command since the US military wouldn’t recognize black soldiers at the time.

Locals back in Henry’s home town of Albany are ecstatic. The local Assemblyman said that everyone has worked so hard for so many years to make the award happen. A mural dedicated to Henry was built in the city hall just over 40 years ago. The current Mayor says the award is long overdue and should have been awarded years ago, the reports.

Sergeant Henry Johnson [Via]

Henry has already post-humously received the French Croix de Guerre, France’s highest award for bravery, as well as the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross. But the Medal of Honor was the last to be awarded.

People from all over America are now celebrating because the role and contribution of African-Americans in the country’s and world’s history is being recognized.

Before the war, Henry had been a driver, soda mixer, worked in a coal yard and as a station porter. When he joined the army in 1917 he was he joined Company C, 15th New York (Colored) Infantry Regiment, which later became the 369th Infantry Regiment.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE