A Soldier's Story: Sergeant Henry Johnson - WWI - Veteran

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Sergeant Henry Johnson was believed to be born on July 15, 1892, in Tallahassee, FL.  He made his way North, to New York City and worked as a redcap porter.  He enlisted in on July 15, 1917, into the New York National Guard, 15th Infantry Regiment


Ultimately mustered into the 369th Infantry division that came to be known as the "Harlem Hellfighters"  they were "loaned" to France 161st division by General Pershing.

On May 14, 1918, while on guard duty at outpost 20 in the Argonne Forest, Sergeant Henry Johnson came under attack by a raiding party of approximately 24 enemy soldiers.  Sergeant Henry Johnson earned the name "Black Death" that day by completely winning the confrontation using grenades, rifle butt, bolo knife, and fists. He survived with more than 21 wounds.  His story was told in a Saturday Evening Post article called "Young Black Joe".

After his enlistment, he briefly joined a lecture tour, but, after he spilled the beans on the racism in the trenches, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Sergeant Johnson acquired tuberculosis and died on July 1, 1929.  Teddy Roosevelt Jr., of the American Legion, has called him one of the five bravest Americans in WW1.

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