Rank and organization:   Private First Class, U.S. Army, Company G, 180th
Infantry, 45th Infantry Division.
Place and date:   Near Padiglione, Italy,
1719 February 1944.
Entered service at:   Colchester, Conn.
G.O. No.: 73, 6 September 1944.
Citation:   For conspicuous gallantry
and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action
against the enemy. On 17 February 1944, near Padiglione, Italy, he observed
and fired upon an attacking force of approximately 80 Germans, causing
at least 25 casualties and forcing withdrawal of the remainder. All that
day he manned his gun without relief, subject to mortar, artillery, and
sniper fire. Two Germans individually worked so close to his position that
his machinegun was ineffective, whereupon he killed 1 with his pistol,
the second with a rifle taken from another soldier. When a rifleman protecting
his gun position was killed by a sniper, he immediately moved the body
and relocated the machinegun in that spot in order to obtain a better field
of fire. He volunteered to cover the platoon's withdrawal and was the last
man to leave that night. In his new position he maintained an all-night
vigil, the next day causing 7 German casualties. On the afternoon of the
18th, the organization on the left flank having been forced to withdraw,
he again covered the withdrawal of his own organization. Shortly thereafter,
he was seriously wounded over the heart, and a passing soldier saw him
trying to crawl up the embankment. The soldier aided him to resume his
position behind the machinegun which was soon heard in action for about
10 minutes. Though reported killed, Pfc. Johnston was seen returning to
the American lines on the morning of 19 February slowly and painfully working
his way back from his overrun position through enemy lines. He gave valuable
information of new enemy dispositions. His heroic determination to destroy
the enemy and his disregard of his own safety aided immeasurably in halting
a strong enemy attack, caused an enormous amount of enemy casualties, and
so inspired his fellow soldiers that they fought for and held a vitally
important position against greatly superior forces.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)