On this day May, 15 in 1918 United States Army Sergent William “Henry” Johnson becomes one of the first Americans to be awarded the “Croix De Guerre” France’s Highest military honor dispite the racism he faced in the American military. The day before while on watch he faced a German raid in hand to hand combat killing several German soldiers and rescuing a fellow soldier while suffering 21 wounds.
After returning home from the “World War” in 1919 Johnson was unable to return to his previous life and work due to his injuries. He would die poor only 10 years later in 1929 at the age of 36.
There was a long struggle to achieve the awards for him from the US Military. He was finally awarded the Purple Heart in 1996, The Distinguished Service Cross in 2002, and finally the Medal of Honor in 2015.