Today, September 10, 2020, we honor World War I hero and Medal of Honor recipient Henry Johnson, by celebrating Henry Johnson Day here in Albany,  Private Henry Johnson was a United States Army soldier during World War I, and he is considered a war hero. Johnson served with the 369th Infantry Regiment, 39th Division, American Expeditionary Forces.

Johnson was a member of the “Harlem Hellfighters”. The Harlem Hellfighters was the first African American unit in the United States Army to engage in combat. The unit fought in Germany and France during World War I.  Before World War I began, Henry Johnson worked as a railroad Porter in Albany. Once the war began, Johnson was off to war and it has been reported that he used his hands and a rifle to fight off nearly 2 dozen German soldiers during combat.

Johnson was awarded the French Croix de Guerrero Alec Palme for his battlefield valor.  Henry Johnson died in July 1929 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously in 1996 and the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002.

Each year Albany awards a citizen with our own Distinguished Service Award. This year the honoree is Amy Jones.  Ms. Jones is being acknowledged for her longtime community activism working with women and children in Albany.  Ms. Jones said that she dedicated her life to trying to be a dependable person, that others can depend on.  It’s good to see community members acknowledged for their hard work to make the community better for others.

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