Purple Heart finally comes home to Veteran

By Alastair Baker
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Photos by
Alastair Baker

Daniel Johnson accepts the Purple Heart Award, on behalf of his Late father Capt. Allen Johnson, from Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte at a ceremony held at the Beartooth Elk’s Lodge last Friday.

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Capt. Allen Johnson’s wife Mardell stands next to his U.S. Army uniform complete now with the Purple Heart Award.

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Courtesy photo

Capt. Allen Johnson in Korea.

Korean War Veteran Capt. Allen G. Johnson posthumously received his Purple Heart last Friday at a ceremony held at the Beartooth Elks Lodge, Red Lodge.

Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte presented the medal to Johnson’s family “on behalf of a grateful nation for the sacrifices made by your father.”

Attending the ceremony was Johnson’s wife of 62 years, Mardell, and 7 of their 10 children.

Johnson enlisted in the National Guard and was called to active duty to serve in the Korean War in 1951. He was wounded on Nov. 24, 1951 but never received his Purple Heart. Johnson passed away Oct. 4, 2017 at the age of

88.

Johnson’s son Daniel was spurred on to seek out the Purple Heart by his family because “every time I worked in the yard with him I could see the scar, and with his health getting worse we decided it was well past time.”

The Johnson family had approached Gianforte and asked him to help them get the medal after they had spent 18 months fruitlessly going through governmental red tape. Gianforte and his team joined in the hunt and secured the Purple Heart within five months.

Daniel praised the Congressman’s efforts, saying, “Bless you and bless your amazing team. We are very lucky to have an elected official who truly cares about our Veterans.”

“Dad told me that a person needs to serve others in some capacity during their lifetime. He served our country for 25 years. He would be deeply proud and humbled,” said Daniel. “We are sad that our dad isn’t here to receive this award. It’s also a sad fact that many awards and commendations aren’t given or are lost in paper work when they have been earned. The commitment and sacrifices made by individuals for our country and not honored, is simply wrong.”

“He was wounded in the shoulder and suffered extensive hearing loss, so it was well deserved. We’re very proud to have done this and for all Veterans,” said Daniel.

Gianforte thanked Capt. Johnson for his service to the country before reading out comments he made into the Congressional Records, April 18 on the house floor in Congress to recognize Johnson for his heroism.

“Allen Johnson joined the Army in January 1951 and soon found himself fighting for our country on the battlefields of the Korean War. On Nov. 24, 1951 he was wounded in battle, earning the Purple Heart but never received it until today. He served in the National Guard and retired at the rank of Captain. Like so many of his generation, Mr. Johnson, never sought fan fair or special recognition for his service. He served his community as a member of the VFW and American Legion. He passed away last October but he will remain an inspiration to all Montanans.”

“Montana has a heart of service. We have the most Veterans per capita, the 2nd highest in the entire country and your father is a real inspiration to us, and to all of those who have protected our freedoms,” said Gianforte.

The National Personnel Record Center authorized the following awards based Johnson’s honorable service during the Korean War; the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Armed Services Reserve Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge First Award, the United Nations Service Medal and the Sharpshooter Badge with Carbine Bar and Rifle Bar.

“He is well decorated,” said Gianforte.

The family also received U.S. flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol last fall on Veteran’s Day.

Prior to the medal ceremony members of the Red Lodge American Legion Post posted the colors, followed by Afghanistan Veteran Seth Berglee saying the Pledge of Allegiance before Paige Johnson, granddaughter of Johnson, sang the National Anthem. Lee Merck, Pastor of the Church of the Rockies, performed the invocation.

Warene Wall, the Montana State Chair for the National Veterans Service Commission and Chair of the Red Lodge Veteran National Service Commission, said, “It is truly an honor for our lodge to host this.”

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The Carbon County News

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