Military News

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Obama to Posthumously Award Medal of Honor to WWI Soldiers



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2015 – Two fallen World War I veterans will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry from President Barack Obama during a June 2 White House ceremony.

Army Sgt. William Shemin

Army Sgt. William Shemin will receive the medal for his actions while serving as a rifleman for Company G, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces. He distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of the Vesle River, Bazoches, France, on Aug. 7-9, 1918.

Shemin left the cover of his platoon’s trench and crossed open space, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine gun and rifle fire to rescue wounded comrades. Due to casualties suffered by his superiors, Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire until he was wounded Aug. 9.

Ms. Elsie Shemin-Roth of Webster Grove, Missouri, will join the president at the White House to accept the Medal of Honor on her father’s behalf.

Army Pvt. Henry Johnson

Army Pvt. Henry Johnson will receive the medal for his actions while serving as a member of Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Johnson distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of the Tourbe and Aisne Rivers, northwest of Saint Menehoul, France, on May 15, 1918.

Johnson entered the Army on June 5, 1917. He was assigned to Company C, 15th New York (Colored) Infantry Regiment, an all-black National Guard unit that would later become the 369th Infantry Regiment. The regiment was ordered into battle in 1918, and Johnson and his unit were brigaded with a French Army colonial unit in front-line combat.

While on night sentry duty May 15, 1918, Johnson and a fellow soldier were attacked by a German raiding party comprising at least 12 soldiers. While under intense enemy fire and despite receiving significant wounds,

Johnson mounted a brave retaliation resulting in several enemy casualties. When his comrade was badly wounded, Johnson prevented him from being taken prisoner by German forces. He exposed himself to grave danger by advancing from his position to engage an enemy soldier in hand-to-hand combat. Displaying great courage, Johnson held back the enemy force until they retreated.

New York National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Louis Wilson will join the President at the White House to accept the Medal of Honor on Johnson’s behalf.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military recognition, and is awarded to members of the armed forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.

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