A large grouping of original documents and memorabilia relating to Corporal David Anton Johnson, 5th Marine Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, who died of wounds received in combat, and who was recognized with a Silver Star for gallantry, in June of 1918. This entire grouping was recently acquired directly from a member of Corporal Johnson's family. The group consists of the following items:
- A photograph of Johnson in Marine Corps service uniform. He wears the campaign hat with the eagle, globe and anchor insignia on the front. The tunic is very clearly the unique cut of the Marine Corps, with pointed cuff ornamentation. On the back of the photograph is written "Corp. David A. Johnson" and "Return to Mary Johnson", with her address. This was Johnson's Mother. There is also a notation of "2nd/No.67". The "2nd" may refer to the 2nd Division, with which Johnson was serving when he was killed in action. The photograph was most probably loaned by Johnson's mother for a display of soldiers and Marines who had died in the war. The photograph is about 3 by 5 1/2 inches.
- Original Western Union telegram, dated June 27, 1918, addressed to Corporal Johnson's Mother, advising her that he son had died of wounds received in combat on June 17, 1918.
- An official "Despatch" from the Marine Corps, Navy Department, in Washington, also addressed to Johnson's Mother, dated June 17, 1918, and repeating the news contained within the telegram. Both the telegram and the "Despatch" bear the typed name of Major General George Barnett, Commandant of the Marine Corps, as the sender.
- The large memorial accolade depicting Columbia knighting a kneeling American soldier. The document is full size, uncut and untrimmed, and has been rolled for the last century. It is named to "David Anton Johnson-Marine Corps", who "Died in the service of his country". It is approximately 18 by 21 1/2 inches in size.
- The U.S. Army memorial accolade bearing the printed signature of General John J. Pershing. The document is within the original frame in which it was placed by Johnson's family. It is approximately 11 3/4 by 15 1/2 inches in size. It records that "Private David A. Johnson, 17th Company, 5th U.S. Marine Corps [Regiment]" died on June 16th, 1918 (The documents reflect a minor discrepancy in that some refer to the date of Johnson's death as June 16, 1918, while others refer to the date of death as June 17th. It is probably that the discrepancy resulted form the fact that Johnson was, in all likelihood, wounded in action on the 16th and died on the 17th. Additionally, while this document refers to Johnson as a Private, officially he was a Corporal, having been promoted to that rank in April of 1918. That promotion paperwork may not have caught up with AEF Headquarters at the time that the Pershing accolade was prepared and sent to the family of Corporal Johnson.
- The large official memorial accolade from the French government, named to Johnson as a U.S. Marine, approximately 13 1/2 by 20 1/4 inches in size. The document is uncut and untrimmed and has been rolled for the last century.
- The French Croix de Guerre medal with star, and the award document for that medal, with the document named personally to Johnson. He was cited for action from June 6 to 9, 1918. This period was the battle of Chateau-Thierry. For his valor in that battle Johnson was also cited for gallantry in action by the AEF. The citation can be found on line for Johnson:
"By direction of the President, under the provisions of the act of Congress approved July 9, 1918 (Bul. No. 43, W.D. 1918), Corporal David A. Johnson (MCSN: 82529), United States Marine Corps, is cited by the Commanding General, SECOND DIVISION, American Expeditionary Forces, for gallantry in action and a silver star may be placed upon the ribbon of the Victory Medals awarded him. Corporal Johnson distinguished himself while serving with the 17th Company, Fifth Regiment (Marines), 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces at Chateau-Thierry, France, 6 June to 10 July 1918."
It was not until 1932 that this "Silver Star Citation" star was converted into the Silver Star Medal. Johnson, of course, did not live to either wear his silver citation star or to receive the Silver Star Medal that was later created.
- The large, color, French citation document for the 5th Marine Regiment, recognizing the valor of the regiment and awarding it the Croix de Guerre. This document was printed by the U.S. Marine Corps for presentation to members of the Regiment. The document has been rolled since its creation and it is approximately 12 by 18 1/2 inches in size.
- Official U.S. Marine Corps Service Accolade, still with its original mailing tube, which is addressed to Johnson's Mother. The document is approximately 10 1/2 by 18 inches. It records that Johnson served honorably in the Marine Corps from April 19, 1917, to June 16, 1918; that he served with the 2nd Division of the AEF; and that he was promoted to Corporal in April of 1918.
- Two World War I Service Star window flags. One is quite tattered, the other is largely intact, although one ornamental point on the hanging rod is missing. The flag which is intact is about 8 1/2 by 10 1/2 inches, with a gold star sewn over top of the original blue service star, reflecting that the serving soldier had been killed. The tattered flag has a gold star sewn to the center and the blue star that was originally on the flag is now separate from it, having been replaced by the gold one when Corporal Johnson was killed.
- A small enamel blue service star flag pin, and two small gold star lapel buttons. These were likely worn by Johnson's mother before and after he was killed.
- A World War I American Victory Medal, without clasps. The ribbon is torn completely through and so the suspension brooch, while present, is no longer attached to the medal.
- Johnson's "U.S. Marine Corps Score Book and Rifleman's Instructor for the New Springfield Rifle". Johsnon's name is written on the front cover along with the serial number of is rifle. The book does not have any scores recorded within it. Inside this book was found an official Marine Corps receipt for the issuance to Johnson of one pair of russet shoes at the Marine Corps Barracks at Port Royal, South Carolina.
- A "Parley Voo Booklet" of French and German phrases.
The documents show signs of age, but they have largely been kept rolled and stored away for the last 100 years. It is a remarkably complete group of memorial and service documents for a United States Marine who gave his life for his country in battle during the First World War, and who was cited for valor by both the American and French Armies.