Henry Lincoln Johnson
Johnson in 1918, wearing his Croix de Guerre
|Birth name||Henry Lincoln Johnson|
|Died||July 5, 1929 (aged 31–32)
New Lenox, Illinois
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1917-1918|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Henry Johnson, an African American, was born in Alexandria, Virginia in 1897 and moved to Albany, New York when he was in his early teens. He worked as a redcap porter at the Albany Union Station on Broadway. Johnson enlisted in the Army June 5, 1917, joining the all-black New York National Guard unit, the 15th New York Infantry, which, when mustered into federal service was renamed the 369th Infantry Regiment, based in Harlem. Assigned to the French command in World War I, Johnson arrived in France on New Year’s Day, 1918. While on guard duty on May 14, 1918, Private Johnson came under attack by a German raider party. Johnson displayed uncommon heroism when, using his rifle and a bolo knife, he repelled the Germans, thereby rescuing a comrade from capture and saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. This act of valor earned him the nickname of "Black Death", as a sign of respect for his prowess in combat.
Johnson died in New Lenox, Illinois at the Veterans Hospital, on July 5, 1929, penniless, estranged from his wife and family and without official recognition from the U.S. government. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Interest in obtaining fitting recognition for Johnson grew during the 1970s and 1980s. In November 1991 a monument was erected in Albany, New York's Washington Park in his honor, and a section of Northern Boulevard was renamed Henry Johnson Boulevard.
In June 1996, Johnson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart by President Bill Clinton. In February 2003, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second highest award, was presented to Herman A. Johnson, one of the Tuskegee Airmen, on behalf of his father. John Howe, a Vietnam War veteran who had campaigned tirelessly for recognition for Johnson, and U.S. Army Major General Nathaniel James, President of the 369th Veterans Association, were present at the ceremony in Albany.
In December 2004 the Postal facility at 747 Broadway was renamed the “United States Postal Service Henry Johnson Annex.” Work continues to upgrade his Distinguished Service Cross to the Medal of Honor.
On September 4, 2007 the City of Albany dedicated the Henry Johnson Charter School. Johnson's granddaughter was in attendance.
- "Henry Lincoln Johnson". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
- John Howe's presentation on Sergeant Henry Johnson
- In search of the Medal of Honor, Sergeant Henry Lincoln JohnsonN
- NY Army National Guard Hero Honored In Celebration of Black History Month
- Henry Lincoln Johnson Sergeant, United States Army