Once-forgotten African American war hero Army Sgt. Henry Johnson is the latest soldier to be featured in a graphic novel series honoring Medal of Honor recipients.
Scripted by Chuck Dixon, who’s written for titles like the “Punisher” and “Batman,” “Medal of Honor: Henry Johnson” tells the story of how Johnson earned both the Medal of Honor and French Croix de Guerre during World War I.
Johnson, a member of the all-Black 369th Infantry Regiment better known as the Harlem Hellfighters, was on sentry duty May 14, 1918, in France’s Argonne Forest when a German raiding party took him and fellow Hellfighter Pvt. Needham Roberts by surprise.
Roberts was injured early on in the fight, but Johnson held back between 10 and 20 enemies first with his rifle, then with grenades, and lastly with a bolo knife. He killed four and wounded others. The raiding party retreated as reinforcements drew near.
Johnson did not escape unharmed, however. He sustained 21 injuries in total, including three gunshot wounds, the French official journal reported.
Unable to resume work as a railway porter upon his discharge, Johnson’s health declined until he died destitute at the age of 36.
Historians later located his grave at Arlington and petitioned for Johnson to be awarded for his service. President Bill Clinton posthumously awarded Johnson the Purple Heart in 1996, and President Barack Obama gave him the Medal of Honor in 2015.
The novel, part of a series honoring Medal of Honor recipients, can be read for free as part of the Association of the U.S. Army’s Book Program.
“It has been especially exciting to highlight figures like Henry Johnson, who were famous in their own day but need an introduction to a new generation of readers,” Joseph Craig, director of the AUSA Book Program, said in a statement to Just the News.
The collaborative team included script-writing by Chuck Dixon (Marvel’s “Punisher”), drawings by PJ Holden (”Judge Dredd,” “World of Tanks”), color work by Peter Pantazis (“Justice League,” “Superman,” “Wolverine”) and lettering by Troy Peteri (“Spiderman,” “Iron Man,” “X-Men”).
Upcoming editions of the series include spotlights on Civil War surgeon Dr. Mary Walker and Holocaust survivor and Korean War veteran Cpl. Tibor Rubin.
Readers can view the full graphic story here.
Harm Venhuizen is an editorial intern at Military Times. He is studying political science and philosophy at Calvin University, where he's also in the Army ROTC program.