Saturday, November 22, 2014
Friday, November 21, 2014
Hero known as the; Black Death; to receive Medal of Honor 95 yearslate: African-American soldier fought off dozens of Germans despitebeing shot 20 times
Nearly 100 years after he single-handedly fought off a German attack and saved a comrade from capture despite suffering serious wounds, Sgt. Henry Johnson is a step closer to getting a posthumous Medal of Honor.
In an unprecedented move, congress is looking at changing a law that would allow a black World War I soldier from upstate New York who saved a comrade while fighting off a German attack in France, to be honored.
A number of congressmen including Chuck Hagel, the secretary of defense, has sent Congress a letter saying Sgt. Henry Johnson should receive the nation's highest military decoration for bravery in combat.
The railroad porter from Albany was serving in the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment when he killed or wounded several enemy soldiers while saving a fellow soldier from capture.
The president gets the final word on the medal request, which also requires passage of special legislation in Congress because Johnson's actions were more than five years ago.
The current legislation specifies that heroic actions have to have taken place within five years to be considered.
His men: Johnson (back row, 2nd from right) was a solider in an all-black outfit, the 369th Infantry Regiment, a New York National Guard unit based in Manhattan and known as the Harlem Hell-fighters
The stuff of legend: He almost single- highhandedly fought off his attackers armed only with a rifle and a knife, using the rifle as a club once it had run out of bullets
Remembered: Henry Johnson is displayed in the Arbor Hill neighborhood in Albany, New York. The secretary of defense has recommended awarding a posthumous Medal of Honor to the black soldier from upstate New York who saved a comrade while fighting off a German attack in France during World War I
'Johnson should have received this recognition 95 years ago, and providing an exemption for him now is the right thing to do,' said Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.
If approved, Johnson would become the 89th black soldier to receive the Medal of Honor and just the second for heroism during World War I, according to the Mount Pleasant, South Carolina-based Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Better late thn never: It has been argued that Johnson should receive the Medal Of Honor - the nation's highest military decoration for bravery in combat
Johnson, a Virginia-born rail station porter in Albany, enlisted in the 369th Infantry Regiment, a New York National Guard unit based in Manhattan that became known as the 'Harlem Hellfighters.'
With U.S. armed forces segregated at the time, the 369th was assigned to serve under French command when Johnson's outfit arrived on the front lines in early 1918.
Around midnight on May 15, 1918, he and another soldier, Needham Roberts of Trenton, New Jersey, were standing guard when their position was attacked by about two dozen Germans.
Both Americans were wounded, but despite his injuries the 5ft 4in Johnson fought off the attack, using his knife and rifle to kill or wound several of the enemy who were trying to drag Roberts away.
Johnson's actions caused the other Germans to retreat.
His actions earned him one of France's highest military medals, but historians believe rampant Jim Crow-era racism at a time when the services were segregated kept Johnson from receiving American military honors.
Indeed, accounts of his actions were published in newspapers back home in Albany, as well as in Chicago and New York City.
Former President Theodore Roosevelt, in a book he wrote about World War I, listed Johnson among the bravest Americans to serve in the conflict.
'Everybody knew who Henry Johnson was,' said Jack McEneny, a retired state lawmaker and Albany historian who has been advocating Johnson's case for 40 years.
'He was a major source of pride and a realization for the black community and the white community of the value of African-Americans to the loyalty of this country.'
Never forget: A statue of Henry Johnson in Washington Park in Albany, New York. It has been argued that Johnson be awarded the Medal Of Honor nearly 100 years after he single-handedly fought off a German attack
Racist past: Johnson’s legacy went unrecognized because of segregation within the armed forces at the time
After the war, Johnson moved back to Albany, where he resumed working as a porter.
Plagued by his wartime injuries, he died a destitute alcoholic at age 32 at a veterans hospital Illinois in 1929.
He was believed to have been buried in a pauper's grave, but his final resting place was found in Arlington National Cemetery in 2002.
Two U.S. Navy ships collided in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday, the Associated Press reported. No sailors were injured in the incident.
The USNS Amelia Earhart and the USNS Walter S. Diehl touched off the coast of Yemen in what a Navy spokesman deemed a "minor collision." The vessels, which resupply Navy warships that conduct operations for the U.S. 5th Fleet, were in the midst of an exchange of goods, the news service added.
"Naval 'underway replenishments' typically involve ships coming within 100 to 150 feet, or 30 to 45 meters, of one another and ferrying dry goods across cables and fuel through hoses," the Associated Press detailed
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Only "relatively minor damage" was sustained when the ships collided, and they were able to continue to operate during repairs, 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Kevin Stephens told the AP.
"Initial reports indicate only minor damage to both ships. The ships are operating under their own power and are continuing their assigned missions," a Navy statement detailed.
The Earhart is a dry cargo and ammunition supply ship, while the Diehl serves as a replenishment oiler, Stars and Stripes noted. The military newspaper said the incident occurred at 5:26 a.m. The Earhart typically has a crew of about 170, the Diehl of about 100.
U.S. and international naval forces have been patrolling the Gulf of Adan as an anti-piracy task force for years, according to Defense News. The 5th Fleet has a mission that encompasses about 2.5 million square miles of water around the Middle East region, including the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea, Stars and Stripes added.
The fleet is based at a Naval Support Activity in the small island country of Bahrain, which also houses U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. A former installation of the British Royal Navy, It is the primary base in the region for the naval and marine activities in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
An investigation will determine what exactly led to Thursday's collision between the two vessels, the Navy said.
Shell shock in the heart of London
Shaking limbs and shaken minds
What about the German side?
Stigma of psychiatric problems
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- 12 November 2014. 96 Years Since the "Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month"... Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth and France Unveils Memorial to the War Dead in Flanders
- World War I ended 96 years ago but Britain is only making its first debt payment
- Last ceramic poppy planted at the Tower of London