Private Paul John Johnson

ribbon_PHribbon_apc

NAME:
Paul John Johnson
NICKNAME:

SERVICE NUMBER:
354199
HOME OF RECORD:
Utica, NY
NEXT OF KIN:
Father, Mr. Frank Johnson
DATE OF BIRTH:
1925
ENLISTED:
January 21, 1942
DATE OF DEATH:
September 27, 1942
CAMPAIGN UNIT MOS RATE FATE
Guadalcanal B/1/7 Private KIA
CAUSE OF DEATH:
Unknown
INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS:
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK:
Private
STATUS OF REMAINS:
Unknown
MEMORIAL:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.


Birth and Early Life:
Paul Johnson was born in Albany, New York, in 1925. His father, Frank, worked as a power plant foreman and eventually relocated his family to Utica, where Paul grew up and attended high school. (1)

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
On January 21, 1942, Paul Johnson joined the Marine Corps. He trained at Parris Island, and after finishing boot camp was assigned to Company B, First Battalion, 7th Marines.

Wartime Service:
Private Johnson underwent additional training with the 7th Marines at New River, North Carolina, and spent several months performing garrison duty in American Samoa. He finally saw action on September 18, 1942, when his regiment arrived on Guadalcanal – a Japanese fleet shelled their bivouac, causing some casualties and much confusion among the untried troops. They got a chance to strike back on September 24, but their patrol along the Matanikau ran into much heavier resistance than was expected, and was turned back with several casualties – Company B lost their commanding officer, Lieutenant Alvin C. Cockrell, and  returned to the Marine lines on the orders of their battalion commander, Lt. Colonel Lewis “Chesty” Puller.

Date Of Loss:
Orders came through for Johnson’s company on the morning of Sunday, September 27. After bolting a quick breakfast, they were hustled to the beach and loaded aboard Higgins boats for a short voyage around the tip of Point Cruz. As they splashed ashore, some realized that they were now behind Japanese lines. Their instructions were vague – advance inland, destroy any opposition, and re-group on a location marked as Hill 84 about five hundred yards from the beach.

The Japanese were waiting and hit the Marines with heavy mortar and machine gun fire, killing the battalion commander and wounding several other officers. The expedition quickly became a disaster, and it took the rest of the day for the Marines to fight their way out of the trap and back to the boats. They lost 23 men wounded and 24 killed and unaccounted for in the regiment’s bloodiest day of the war thus far.

One of those killed in the disastrous attack was Paul Johnson. His remains, if located, have not yet been identified.

For more on this action, see Little Dunkirk.

Utica Observer, 1943.
Utica Observer, 1943.

 

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr Frank Johnson

Status Of Remains:
Unknown

Memorial:
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
_____
NOTES:
(1) At least part of the Johnson family was of German extraction. While Frank is alternately listed as German (New York State Census, 1925) and American-born (US Census, 1940), his wife Catherine was originally a citizen of Germany and the two oldest daughters, Anna and Charlotte, were born abroad. An interesting note can be found in the 1930 Census; Catherine arrived in the United States in 1919, a year after her marriage – perhaps Frank was stationed in Germany during the Great War – and the two daughters arrived in 1924, at around age 3. A third daughter, Georgette, was born in Utica.

One thought on “Private Paul John Johnson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s