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Henry Johnson’s Medal Of Honor Goes On Display In Albany

Albany legend Henry Johnson memoralized in Washington Park.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

An exhibit posthumously honoring World War I hero Sgt. Henry Johnson, awarded of the Medal of Honor this year, opens today in the War Room of the State Capital.

New York state is also awarding Johnson the Medal of Valor, its highest honor. 

In June, President Barrack Obama posthumously awarded Johnson the nation’s highest military decoration. U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer was at the forefront of the years-long initiative to have the Medal of Honor bestowed upon Johnson.

Historical papers uploaded to the internet circa 2011 provided the necessary documentation to carry Schumer's quest to fruition.  Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan:    "... like it was a cold case, but using new technology came back and really searched and searched and found the evidence needed."

Johnson suffered 21 wounds and rescued a fellow soldier while singlehandedly repelling an enemy raid in France in 1918.  He and that soldier, 17-year-old Needham Roberts, received the French military’s highest recognition, the Croix de Guerre.  In February of 1919, the Harlem Hellfighters returned to New York for a parade up Fifth Avenue, and Johnson returned to Albany, where historians say he died, destitute, in 1929, at age 32. He has no living relatives.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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