b. 07/05/1947 Detroit, Michigan. d. 30/04/1971 Detroit, Michigan.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 15/01/1968 near Dak To, Vietnam.
Johnson was born on May 7, 1947, and lived in the E. J. Jeffries Homes, a housing project in Detroit, Michigan. He never knew his father, and his mother raised Dwight and his younger brother by herself. Drafted to serve in the United States Army in Vietnam, he was a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 69th Armor, 4th Infantry Division.
He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery near Dak To, Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, on January 15, 1968. He received his Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson at The White House on November 19, 1968. After returning from Vietnam, Johnson had difficulty adjusting to his post war role. Until he was bestowed with the Medal of Honor, he had trouble finding work and got into great debt. After receiving the medal, he went back to the Army and worked as a recruiter and made public relations appearances. When he began missing appointments and speaking engagements, he was sent for medical evaluation, at which he was diagnosed with a depression caused by post Vietnam adjustment problems, often referred to now as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Just after 11:30 p.m. on April 29, 1971, Johnson was shot after entering an Open Pantry convenience store 1-mile (1.6 km) from his home, drawing a revolver from under his topcoat and demanding money from cashier at the front of the store. The store owner was in the back office, responding to Johnson’s demand for all the cash, the owner was shot in left bicep (22 Caliber bullet) and returned fire with a .38 Special revolver. Seven shots were fired. Johnson sustained four bullet wounds, three to the chest and one to the face, and died on the operating table at 4:00 a.m. on April 30. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on May 6, 1971. His grave can be found in Section 31 Lot 471. Johnson’s mother said: “Sometimes I wonder if Skip was tired of this life and needed someone else to pull the trigger”.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp5c. Johnson, a tank driver with Company B, was a member of a reaction force moving to aid other elements of his platoon, which was in heavy contact with a battalion-size North Vietnamese force. Sp5c. Johnson’s tank, upon reaching the point of contact, threw a track and became immobilized. Realizing that he could do no more as a driver, he climbed out of the vehicle, armed only with a .45 caliber pistol. Despite intense hostile fire, Sp5c. Johnson killed several enemy soldiers before he had expended his ammunition. Returning to his tank through a heavy volume of antitank-rocket, small-arms and automatic weapon fire, he obtained a submachine gun with which to continue his fight against the advancing enemy. Armed with this weapon, Sp5c. Johnson again braved deadly enemy fire to return to the center of the ambush site where he courageously eliminated more of the determined foe. Engaged in extremely close combat when the last of his ammunition was expended, he killed an enemy soldier with the stock end of his submachine gun. Now weaponless, Sp5c. Johnson ignored the enemy fire around him, climbed into his platoon sergeant’s tank, extricated a wounded crewmember and carried him to an armored personnel carrier. He then returned to the same tank and assisted in firing the main gun until it jammed. In a magnificent display of courage, Sp5c. Johnson exited the tank and again armed only with a .45 caliber pistol, engaged several North Vietnamese troops in close proximity to the vehicle. Fighting his way through devastating fire and remounting his own immobilized tank, he remained fully exposed to the enemy as he bravely and skillfully engaged them with the tank’s externally mounted .50 caliber machine gun, where he remained until the situation was brought under control. Sp5c. Johnson’s profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
SECTION 31, GRAVE 471.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.