A former Sheridan resident and World War II veteran, Charles R. Johnson, was honored posthumously by Senator Mike Enzi this month after the U.S. Army lost paperwork documenting his heroic achievements. Chris Foy has the story.
Johnson's youngest daughter, Ranelle Kane, and her family from Wolf visited Enzi's office in Washington D.C., where the Senator recognized Johnson's achievements as an American infantryman.
On November 14, Enzi awarded the family on Johnson's behalf, with the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism, the Bronze Star for exemplary performance and the Purple Heart for an injury he sustained during combat.
While serving with Company C, the 168th Infantry Regiment/34th Infantry Division in Italy, Staff Sgt. Johnson and his troops came under fire on New Years Day, 1944, during the Allied effort to breakthrough to Rome. Johnson and his men were engaged in a six-day battle that led to the weakening and eventual withdrawal of the enemy's defensive position.
On January 7, Johnson positioned himself to rain lead on a German machine gun emplacement, killing two machine gunners firing on his unit. A group of enemy soldiers then charged towards near Johnson's position - endangering the life of an American soldier. Johnson charged the German troops, killing all three.
Later that same day Johnson repelled an attack by 20 German soldiers, killing two and wounding three others. He later weaved through a mine field to take out an enemy sniper. Two days later, Johnson and two comrades raided a German hideout and captured 11 German soldiers.
But Johnson's bravery and valor under pressure didn't stop there.
On January 14, Johnson took action to neutralize enemy fire. This allowed American troops to complete an early-day mission. While under heavy mortar fire, Johnson carried a wounded soldier to safety and administered first aid. Two days later, he observed three Germans behind a pile of rocks while he was on patrol. Johnson charged them, killing two and taking one as a prisoner. This led 11 more German soldiers to surrender their nearby post.
And the Army had no record of these heroic achievements.
The search began after some of Johnson's surviving family members attempted to locate his full service records. They were surprised to find out that - officially - they did not exist.
Johnson was wounded during his service in Italy and even was pinned with the Distinguished Service Cross - but the records and accounts of Johnson's service were not to be found. The family knew he must have done something special, because they also had a 1944 recommendation for the Medal of Honor to prove it. It just wasn't adding up - so the Kane family asked Congressional leaders for help.
It took 10 months for the proper military offices to locate Johnson's paperwork, but the Kane family said they were grateful and honored to posthumously accept the long-overdue commendations.