It's almost a century later than would have been ideal, but Sgt. Henry Johnson* and Sgt. William Shemin are being awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama at a White House ceremony for their heroics in World War I. Both had been overlooked previously, though Johnson was one of the first Americans to receive the Croix de Guerre avec Palme from the French government.
Not surprisingly, a fair bit of information about both soldiers can be found online, and while there's no dispute about their bravery, personal details about Sgt. Shemin are mostly accurate, while Sgt. Johnson's are frequently distorted. I'd like to take this opportunity to correct some of the misinformation circulating about Sgt. Henry Johnson.
- His full name was William Henry Johnson, not, as reported by some, Henry Lincoln Johnson.** Sgt. Johnson preferred to go by his middle name of Henry but occasionally used his full name for formal purposes.
More remains to be corrected, but clarifying his name, as well as shedding light on the dates and places of his birth and death, seems a modest and fitting Memorial Day tribute.
*While it is customary in award situations to use the rank of the soldier at the time of the relevant incident, I have opted to refer to Henry Johnson by his highest attained rank.
**He may have been confused with Henry Lincoln Johnson, another World War I veteran.