WWI hero Henry Johnson honored in Albany
May 15, 2018 01:05 PM
It was 100 years ago today that Albany World War I hero Sgt. Henry Johnson earned the nickname “Black Death.” On May 15, 1918, Johnson went into hand-to-hand combat and protected his partner from a German regiment. When a German sniper tried to take them both out, he fought back with grenades, a gun, and even a machete.
Johnson was an African-American soldier who originally tried to enlist in the U.S. Army but was kept out by segregation. But then he and the all-black “Harlem Hell Fighers” went to France and fought bravely on the front lines.
He sustained many wounds, but died without decoration in 1929.
Posthumously, Johnson was awarded several honors:
- 1991, the Medal of Valor from France
- 1996, the Purple Heart from President Bill Clinton
- 2002, the Distinguished Service Cross from President George W. Bush
- 2015, the Medal of Honor from President Barrack Obama
A wreath was laid Tuesday morning at Johnson's monument in Washington Park to commemorate the hero's actions. Further local celebrations -- including a commemorative coin unveiling -- are planned for June.
Updated: May 15, 2018 01:05 PM
Created: May 15, 2018 07:05 AM
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