BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D. Ralph Henry 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 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.
In January 1968, he arrived in the Republic of Vietnam , and served as a Reconnaissance Scout with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF.
In the early morning hours of March 5, 1968 during Operation ROCK, Private First Class Johnson and his 15-man reconnaissance patrol manned 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.
As the enemy raced up the hill, a hand grenade landed in the three-man fighting hole occupied by Private Johnson and two fellow Marines. Realizing the danger to his comrades, PFC Johnson shouted a warning and willingly hurled himself upon the explosive device.
When the grenade exploded, PFC Johnson absorbed the impact of the blast and was killed instantly. His heroic act saved the life of a fellow Marine at the cost of his own and prevented the enemy from penetrating his sector of the patrol’s perimeter.
PFC Johnson was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously. He was also awarded 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, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Civil Actions First Class and Good Conduct Marine Corps.
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously
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 theNorth 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 President
|PFC Ralph Henry Johnson is buried at the Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, Beaufort County, South Carolina, USA Plot: Section 3, Grave 21.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.
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