Ralph H. Johnson
Ralph Henry Johnson
PFC Ralph H. Johnson
|Born||January 11, 1949|
Charleston, South Carolina
|Died||March 5, 1968 (aged 19)|
Quảng Nam Province, South Vietnam
|Place of burial|
Beaufort National Cemetery South Carolina
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1967–1968|
|Rank||Private First Class|
|Unit||1st Reconnaissance Battalion|
|Battles/wars||Vietnam War †|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Ralph Henry Johnson (January 11, 1949 – March 5, 1968) was a United States Marine who posthumously received the Medal of Honor for heroism in March 1968 during the Vietnam War. When a hand grenade was thrown into his fighting hole, he immediately covered it with his body—absorbing the full impact of the blast—sacrificing his life to save a fellow Marine and preventing the enemy from penetrating his patrol perimeter.
Ralph Johnson was born on January 11, 1949, in Charleston, South Carolina. He attended Courtnay Elementary School and Simonton Jr. High School in Charleston, South Carolina.
Upon completion of recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, MCRD San Diego, California, in September 1967, he was transferred to the Camp Pendleton, California. He underwent individual combat training with Company Y, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, and basic infantry training with the Basic Infantry Training Company, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, completing the latter in November 1967. He was promoted to private first class on November 1, 1967.
On March 5, 1968, while on Operation Rock, a four-day operation by the 3rd Battalion 7th Marines in the "Arizona Territory" northwest of An Hoa Combat Base, his 15-man reconnaissance patrol was attacked by a platoon-sized enemy force on Hill 146 in the Quan Duc Duc Valley. When a hand grenade landed in the fighting hole he shared with fellow Marines, he yelled a warning and immediately hurled his body over the explosive charge. Absorbing the full impact of the blast, he was killed instantly. His heroic actions on that day were recognized with a posthumous award of the United States' highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor.:738
Decorations and honors
A complete list of his medals and decorations includes: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, the Vietnamese Military Merit Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
|Medal of Honor|
|Purple Heart||National Defense Service Medal||Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars|
|Vietnam Military Merit Medal||Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm||Vietnam Campaign Medal|
The Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina, formerly the Charleston VA Medical Center, was renamed in honor of PFC Johnson, with a formal dedication on September 5, 1991. Johnson's Medal of Honor, along with his Medal of Honor citation and a portrait of him, is framed and on public display at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center's front lobby.
On February 15, 2012, the Navy announced that a new Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer would be named the USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114) in his honor. The warship arrived at the Port of Charleston's Columbus Street Terminal on March 19, 2018 and is scheduled to be commissioned on March 24, 2018.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS RALPH H. JOHNSON
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
- For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a reconnaissance scout with Company A, First Reconnaissance Battalion, First Marine Division in action against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces in the Republic of Vietnam. In the early morning hours of March 5, 1968, during OPERATION ROCK, First Class Johnson was a member of a fifteen-man reconnaissance patrol manning an observation post on Hill 146 overlooking the Quan Duc Valley deep in enemy controlled territory. They were attacked by a platoon-size hostile force employing automatic weapons, satchel charges and hand grenades. Suddenly a hand grenade landed in the three- man fighting hole occupied by Private First Class Johnson and two fellow Marines. Realizing the inherent danger to his comrades, he shouted a warning and unhesitatingly hurled himself upon the explosive device. When the grenade exploded, Private First Class Johnson absorbed the tremendous impact of the blast and was killed instantly. His prompt and heroic act saved the life of one Marine at the cost of his own and undoubtedly prevented the enemy from penetrating his sector of the patrol's perimeter. Private First Class Johnson's courage inspiring valor and selfless devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
/S/ RICHARD M. NIXON
- Shulimson, Jack (1988). US Marines in Vietnam: 1968 The Defining Year. History and Museums Division Headquarters United States Marine Corps. p. 2488. ISBN 0160491258.
- "Ralph H. Johnson". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
- "PFC Ralph H. Johnson, USMC – Charleston VAMC". Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- "Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center". Facilities and Locator Directory. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- Blakeney, Barney (March 21, 2018). "Navy Destroyer Ralph H. Johnson To Be Commissioned". The Charleston Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Ralph Henry Johnson, USMC", Virtual Wall.
- "PFC Ralph H. Johnson", Marines Awarded the Medal of Honor.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
- "Private First Class Ralph H. Johnson, USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
- "Medal of Honor – PFC Ralph H. Johnson (Medal of Honor citation)". Marines Awarded the Medal of Honor. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 2007-01-03. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
- "Ralph Henry Johnson, USMC". VirtualWall.org. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
- Greene, Robert Ewell (1974). Black Defenders of America, 1775-1973. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc.
- Botch, Robert E. (January 1998). "PFC Ralph Johnson, USMC". Political Science Department, University of South Carolina-Aiken. Retrieved 2006-04-16.
- "Johnson, Ralph H." Medal of Honor recipients – Vietnam. United States Army Center of Military History. July 16, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
- Ralph Henry Johnson at Find a Grave