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Thursday, July 05, 2012
TFH 7/5: Private First Class Walter P. Johnson, USMC
This will be a quick post, because little other than this United States Marine's Navy Cross citation is available. Stories of soldiers and Marines jumping on top of grenades to save their comrades frequently appear here as Their Finest Hour honorees. What's almost unheard of is the story of a man who shields his comrades from a grenade explosion - and survives.
Private First Class Walter P. Johnson, serving with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment on July 5, 1952, did just that. I'd love to find out why his incredible act of heroism didn't warrant the Medal of Honor.
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Private First Class Walter P. Johnson (MCSN: 1195001), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving with Company E, Second Battalion, Fifth Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the Republic of Korea on the night of 5 July 1952. When an enemy hand grenade landed in his bunker while he was participating as a member of a thirty-man unit defending an outpost against a fierce assault by an estimated company of the enemy supported by artillery, mortar and heavy machine-gun fire, Private First Class Johnson unhesitatingly threw himself on the deadly grenade, smothering the blast in order to protect a companion occupying the same bunker. Severely wounded as a result of this heroic and selfless action which left his comrade unscathed, Private First Class Johnson, by his great personal valor in the face of almost certain death, upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
I couldn't find any definitive information as to the life and times of the young (I'm assuming, based on rank) man who so bravely set his own life below that of his comrades sixty years ago today.