James Edmund Johnson was born in Pocatello, Idaho on January 1, 1926. He enlisting in the United States Marine Corps on November 10, 1943. After serving in the Pacific theater during World War II and at San Diego, he was discharged on February 7, 1946, and returned to Pocatello, where he worked as a machinist in the Naval Ordnance plant. He re-enlisted in the Marines on January 13, 1948, and embarked for Korea after a year as an instructor in post exchange accounting at the Marine Corps Institute, Marine Barracks, 8th and I Sts., S.E., Washington, D.C.
He departed for Korea in August 1950, and on December 2, 1950 in Yudam-ni, Korea, Sergeant Johnson heroically fought against a disguised enemy force, allowing his unit to successfully withdraw and saving the lives of many. He was declared missing in action and as of December 2, 1953, his status was updated to killed in action, with remains never recovered.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
SERGEANT JAMES E. 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 Squad Leader in a Provisional Rifle Platoon composed of Artillery men and attached to Company J, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces at Yudam-ni, Korea, on 2 December 1950. Vastly outnumbered by a well-entrenched and cleverly concealed enemy force wearing the uniforms of friendly troops and attacking his platoon's open and unconcealed positions, Sergeant Johnson unhesitatingly took charge of his platoon in the absence of the leader and exhibiting great personal valor in the face of a heavy barrage of hostile fire, coolly proceeded to move about among his men, shouting words of encouragement and inspiration and skillfully directing their fire. Ordered to displace his platoon during the fire fight, he immediately placed himself in an extremely hazardous position from which he could provide covering fire for his men. Fully aware that his voluntary action meant either certain death or capture to himself, he courageously continued to provide effective cover for his men and was last observed in a wounded condition single-handedly engaging enemy troops in close hand grenade and hand-to-hand fighting. By his valiant and inspiring leadership, Sergeant Johnson was directly responsible for the successful completion of the platoon's displacement and the saving of many lives. His dauntless fighting spirit and unfaltering devotion to duty in the face of terrific odds reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.
/S/ HARRY S. TRUMAN
C o p y r i g h t (C) 2 0 1 7 – H e a t h R o b i s o n / I d a h o H e r o e s . o r g