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Theodore Spinning (redtop)-Family
Johnson, Harold Keith (24th Army CofS), GEN USA(Ret).
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Home Town Bowesmont
Last Address Washington, D.C.
Date of Passing Sep 24, 1983
Location of Interment Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates Not Specified
Last Known Activity
To All Who Shall See These Presents Greeting:
This is to Certify that
The President of the United States of America
Takes Pride in Presenting
DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS
JOHNSON, HAROLD K.
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Harold K. Johnson, Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer of the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment (Infantry), 1st Cavalry Division. Lieutenant Colonel Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces near Tabu-dong, Korea, on 4 September 1950. When his battalion had been forced to withdraw from their hill position by a series of fierce attacks by an overwhelming number of the enemy, Colonel Johnson immediately directed a counterattack in an attempt to regain the vitally important dominating terrain. Placing himself with the most forward elements in order to more effectively direct and coordinate the attack, Colonel Johnson rallied his men and led them forward. Moving about exposed to the heavy enemy artillery, mortar and small-arms fire, he directed fire, assigned positions and, by personal example, proved the necessary incentive to stimulate and keep the attack moving. When his battalion began to falter due to the devastating enemy fire, Colonel Johnson moved forward to close proximity of the enemy to establish and personally operate a forward observation post. Remaining in this exposed position, he directed effective mortar counter fire against the enemy. When his mortars became inoperable and his casualties very heavy due to the tremendous firepower and numerically superior enemy forces, he realized the necessity for withdrawal. Remaining in the position until the last unit had withdrawn, he directed the salvaging of both weapons and equipment. Reestablishing a new defensive position, he reorganized his battalion and supervised medical attention and evacuation of the wounded. His conspicuous devotion to duty and selfless conduct under enemy fire provided an inspiring example to his men and prevented a serious penetration of friendly lines. Headquarters, Eighth U.S. Army, Korea: General Orders No. 52 (February 2, 1951)
General Johnson was born in Bowesmont, Pembina County, North Dakota in 1912. He came from a poor but close family and his early life was one of hard work and study. General Johnson joined the Boy Scouts as a youth and supported Scouting activities all his life. As Chief of Staff, he kept a Bible and a copy of the Boy Scout handbook on his desk. He often quoted the Scout oath in speeches, "On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty to God and my country".
Johnson was a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. In 1933, he graduated 232nd in a class of 347 and was not expected to have a promising career. During World War II, he fought the Japanese as an officer in the Philippine Scouts' 57th Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Bataan, and survived the Bataan Death March, spending three years in captivity. Johnson also served in the Korean War, during which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest medal for bravery. Chief of Staff
In 1964, General Johnson became the 24th Chief of Staff of the United States Army, having been unexpectedly promoted over several more senior generals. Johnson was the Army's leading tactician, having served as commandant of the Command and General Staff College, and was an outspoken skeptic of deploying troops except as a last resort and accompanied by the total commitment of the civilian leadership.
During his term as Chief of Staff, he was involved in many policy debates regarding the escalation of the Vietnam War. He was a strong proponent of full military mobilization: declare a national emergency, call up the reserves, fight a quick and decisive war, and withdraw. He considered resigning in protest over President Lyndon B. Johnson's decision not to mobilize the reserves, and at the end of his life expressed regret at not doing so.
Johnson married Dorothy Rennix in 1935. He was the subject of a biography, Honorable Warrior, by Lewis Sorley. He died September 24, 1983, in Washington, D.C.. Quotes
"If you want it, you can't get it. If you can get it, it can't find you. If it can find you, it can't identify the target. If it can identify the target, it can't hit it. But if it does hit the target, it doesn't do a great deal of damage anyway." - On Combat Air Support in the Korean War Military history
Worst Moment Taken prisoner on 11 April 1942 near Signal Hill, location of regimental headquarters on Bataan Peninsula.
Other Memories LCol Johnson was among the thousands of POW who experienced the Bataan Death March to Camp O'Donnell. He was later transferred to Camp Cabanatuan. In late 1944, he survived the sinking of the "Hell Ship Oryoku Maru" in Manila harbor. He sailed on another ship 27 Dec 1944 to Formosa. On 6 Jan 1945 he boarded Enoura Maru which was bombed, then left on Brazil Maru and survived the horrors confinement to land at Moji, Kyushu on 30 Jan 1945. With the Allies advance, the POWs were transferred to Korea, where Col Johnson was repatriated on 7 Sep 1945.