LATHAM, N.Y. – Sgt. Henry Johnson, the Albany resident whose World War I service in the New York National Guard’s 369th Infantry Regiment was recognized with the Medal of Honor almost a century later, is now the subject of a digital comic.
The 11-page comic tells the story of Johnson’s actions on May 14, 1918.
Johnson and Pvt. Needham Roberts were on outpost duty when a German raiding party attacked their position out in front of the trenches. The two Americans fought back with grenades and rifle fire, and when Roberts was knocked unconscious and the Germans tried to carry him away, Johnson attacked them with his bolo knife.
The 369th had been fighting with the French Army and Johnson was the first American to receive the French Croix de Guerre with a golden palm, France’s highest award for bravery. But the Medal of Honor eluded him until 2015 when it was presented posthumously by President Barack Obama.
The 369th Infantry was an African-American regiment in a segregated Army. The unit fought under French command because no American commander wanted them.
They went on to become one of the most decorated units in World War I.
The Henry Johnson digital comic is the sixth produced by the Association of the United States Army, known as AUSA for short, which focus on recipients of the Medal of Honor.
Other comics deal with the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, who earned the Medal of Honor serving with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a Japanese-American unit, during World War II, and Lt. Audie Murphy the most decorated Soldier in American history who also served in World War II.
The other online books tell the stories of Sgt. Alvin York, who served during World War I, Staff Sgt. Roy Benavidez, a Vietnam War veteran, and Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta, who fought in Afghanistan.
The online comics are being released as part of AUSA’s effort to educate the public about the role of the Army.
Johnson is the only National Guard Soldier to be documented so far by the series.
The next two comics will feature Dr. Mary Walker, a Civil War surgeon and the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor, and Cpl. Tibor Rubin, a Holocaust survivor who later fought in Korea.
The Henry Johnson book was produced by a team of professionals whose other products have included Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Wolverine and X-Men titles.
The short book focuses on the incident for which Johnson was eventually awarded the Medal of Honor, but also includes short summaries of his life before the war when he worked as a porter at the train station in Albany, and his speaking tour after World War I.
The final panel depicts former New York Army National Guard Command Sgt. Major Louis Wilson receiving the medal on behalf of Johnson, from Obama at the White House on Nov. 9, 2015.
The Henry Johnson digital comic can be seen here at https://www.ausa.org/johnson.
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