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Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State

In honor of Sergeant Harold Johnson, Army - Served in World War II
Hometown: Randolph, Minnesota
(Submitted October 31, 2008 by Laurie Johnson)

My father is a WWII veteran.  He fought in the First Special Service Force (a/k/a "The Devil's Brigade"), an American-Canadian unit.  This group climbed up the back side of Mt. la Difensa which had been a German stronghold.  From what I understand, allies had been trying to take this mountain for several weeks and suffered many casualties.  My father's group took it in a few hours.  However, while on top of the mountain, my father was hit in the chest and upper arms by shrapnel.  Since his lungs would fill up with blood if he laid down, he had to walk down the mountain to get to an aide station (about a 5-6 hour walk down a goat trail).  After the war, he returned home to Minnesota, married my mother and they raised 9 children and helped raise 16 grandchildren.   The First Special Service Force has an annual reunion to this day.  There have been a few in St. Paul and Minneapolis.  In 2004, it was held in Minnetonka with a memorial service at the Airborne Circle at Fort Snelling and again in 2008.

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Last updated: 7/23/2009 9:20:40 AM