Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Dwight H. Johnson MOH recipient... Previous Next
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2119
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 4:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have a question, and hoping that someone will be able to help out.

I'm not sure if anyone is familiar with this hometown hero vietnam vet that was shot by a liqour store clerk in 1971 during the commission of a robbery, but his story is deep and inspired me to do a little more research on him.

Aside from a few passages here and there in one book or another does anyone know how I can obtain any information(police reports from the incident, etc). I'm under the impression that I can get those through the FIA. But where does one start?

Thanks in advance...
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Ray1936
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Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 136
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 207.200.116.134
Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 5:58 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Dwight Hal Johnson is buried, appropriately, in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia. There is a fine bio of his life on the Findagrave web site, tho not much about his tragic death. You might need to find the microfilms of the Detroit papers for the day after his death for all the details.

Findagrave is at http://www.findagrave.com and then click on locate a grave, then enter his name.
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Warriorfan
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Username: Warriorfan

Post Number: 212
Registered: 08-2005
Posted From: 68.43.81.191
Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 11:06 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

JOHNSON, DWIGHT H.

Rank and organization: Specialist Fifth Class, U.S. Army, Company B, 1st Battalion, 69th Armor, 4th Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Dak To, Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, 15 January 1968. Entered service at: Detriot, Mich. Born: 7 May 1947, Detroit, Mich. Citation: 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 weapons fire, he obtained a sub-machine 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.
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Dday
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Username: Dday

Post Number: 794
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 72.49.177.60
Posted on Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 11:19 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Picture of the headstone with a date of death.......should help to narow a search from the Freep or News.

http://www.mishalov.com/Johnso nDwight.html

Some more info...about halfway down
http://www.thenation.com/docpr int.mhtml?i=20050509&s=davis
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2121
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Friday, December 16, 2005 - 12:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Cool, I have most of that information already, but I completly forgot about doing a micro film search at the DPL. That will help alot...

Thanks again! :-)
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2123
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Friday, December 16, 2005 - 6:51 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

According to the information i got He walked in the store WHILE it was being ronbbed according to some witnesses...

DPD never investigated his shooting...
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2130
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 6:13 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Jjaba...

I know that you are a hard core westsider. Do you have any recollection of what the intersection of Greenfield and Orangelawn between Oranglelawn and W. Chicago looked like as far as the businesses and whatnot? Iknow the Open Pantry Market once sat on the southeast corner of Greenfield and Orangelawn which is the store that he was shot in. I am trying to find out where the Sip'N Chat lounge once sat at there. From old newspaper articles it was stated that it was somewhere across the street.
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Rustic
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Username: Rustic

Post Number: 1904
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 130.132.177.245
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 6:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

D_S, I remember two bars nearby. One was on greenfield just north of orangelawn another was on greenfield south of orangelawn toward W Chicago. This would have been around the mid 70's but probably one of these was the Sip&Chat back in '71. I understand Gannon grew up nearby in Avaition so he might know, but he might be a bit too young (like me) to remember that actual bar. Also I think Brian might be familiar with that part of town (not sure of his age ...)

65memories, Paul Macall, Paddy, Ray1936, Rasputin, Ex-pat and a couple of others who post less often are of the proper vintage to remember that part of Detroit at that time and have posted in the past about that part of town. One of them should be able to help you out ...

I heard about that tragic story several times about Dwight Johnson. I have only heard innuendo and rumor tho so I have nothing to share ... he might have been suffering from PTSD and that was why he re-enlisted and why he went AWOL. It is inconceivable to imagine a MoH recipient involved in a stickup ... please share with us what you learn ...
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2131
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Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 7:22 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Of course...

I got from that website linked above findagrave.com a mention that he walked into the store while the robbery was already in commision by a couple of other black guys. The DPD never investigated the shooting and closed the case as being the robber was shot to death in the attempted burglary of the Open Pantry.

But that's just one source thus far while the 71 editions of the freep and thenews paint it as decidedly he was a lone gun man. With all the attention that he did recieve from everyone around I found it funny that not ONE entity decided to step in an help him out when he was unemployed. The once he recieved his MOH EVERYONE wanted this MOH winner to be in their employ...

Prior to that he was just another unemployed Black Vietnam Veteran. The Army didnt make thigns any better since they did nothing for him before he got it. Then once he did recieve they exploited that to their advantage. What better way to get blacks to join the army than making the city's only Black MoH winner a recruiter in a largely balck city?

Even with that the Army did little for him, in light of the financial difficulties he was dealing with in trying to raise a son with another on the way by his pregnant wife.

The thing that catches me is how sketchy the details were on the last day of his life between 6:50 pm and midnight 29 Apr 71. the only police report that was taken was the one that was taken from the store owner Charles Lee Van Landeghem. Despite witness reports from other sources the DPD never investigated his shooting.

More to come as I research more...
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2132
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 7:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Oh yeah how can I copy orlink a map of that intersection to here?
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Rustic
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Username: Rustic

Post Number: 1905
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 67.163.181.81
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 9:14 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ds, I'm sure you've checked out the Chronicle in addition to the FP and News, but have you checked out the Fifth Estate or one of the other Detroit-based counter-culture newpapers and mags back then? There was a black alternative newspaper that published occasionally back then (I forget what it was called) -- one of these have to have reported on this. There was also a Chicago-based socialist newspaper (that eventually morphed into "In the Times") that used to do a lot of Detroit stories back in the mid 70's which if it did exist in the early 70's would have likely covered this story. WSU has all of these in their stacks ...

DS screengrab from google maps hybrid map and satellite image there is also that WSU site with the arial photos from the olden days, you should be able to get a shot from back then. I've got to give my son his bath and put my kids to bed, but if I get a chance tonight after that I'll try to hunt down a good shot ... unless someone elee beats me to it ... hint hint mikem et al. ...
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2138
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 9:31 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

OK I think I may have this now...

However from doing a little footwork over the weekend I found out that 9660 Greenfiled,which was the location of the event, is now a cell phone store on the southeast corner of Greenfield and Orangelawn. But according to the map it puts it near the center of the block.

Jjaba and any of you other older west siders (in all respect) out there, can you place other locales such as the Sip' N Chat Lounge that would have been somewhere across the street from the Open Pantry Market as well as the Market itself?

TY much...

http://maps.google.com/maps?q= 9660+Greenfield+,+Detroit,+MI& ll=42.366899,-83.197178&spn=0. 002779,0.010070&t=h&hl=en
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Ray1936
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Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 145
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 207.200.116.134
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 9:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Wish I could help more on that area of Greenfield and Orangelawn, but I'm afraid my memory is slipping somewhat. Actually, I remember the event as it was prominent in the local press at the time, but nope, just can't place the buildings.
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2139
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Monday, December 19, 2005 - 9:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ray what could you tell me about what you remember about that incident? Any information is welcome...
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Ray1936
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Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 146
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Posted From: 207.200.116.134
Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 2:55 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Seems like the press printed it as a foregone conclusion that he intended to commit a robbery armed at the lounge. Let me e-mail some of my old colleagues and see if they remember anything, and if any do, I'll post it here.
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2141
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 11:44 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Cool thanks, Ray I really appreciate that...
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Ray1936
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Post Number: 147
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Posted From: 207.200.116.134
Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 3:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well, I got a half-dozen responses, but most were in the form of a re-hash of what is already above. Interestingly, most of my retired colleagues of the DPD noted that as a MOH recepient, "may he rest in peace". One remembered his mother quoted as saying "I wonder if Skip just wanted someone to pull the trigger on him", or something to that effect, referring to his personal troubles. One respondent stated he was at the scene (scout 14-11), but just secured it until Homicide got there. One other officer stated he recalled that there was some scuttlebutt about Homicide blowing the investigation, but couldn't quote any documentive source on that; just a gut feeling.

As an aside chuckle, when I posted the request for info, I wrote, ".......who won the Congressional Medal of Honor". One respondent quickly interjected, "You don't WIN the Medal of Honor. You are AWARDED the Medal of Honor".

Of course you do. And to Dwight Johnson, I say God bless you, and rest in peace.
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2146
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 3:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

HMMM thanks again Ray...

this information is just as valuable...

If you stumble across anything else, could ya forward that to me?

So far I have been to the murder scene, i will be checking out his former neighborhood (13689 Allonby his last address) trying to see if there is anyone that knew anything of him or knew him.
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Ray1936
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Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 148
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 207.200.116.134
Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 5:16 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Sure will, stylin'....and do post anything you turn up on this thread, will ya? You've whetted my curiosity as well.

Time has a way of changing facts. I traced my great grandfather's Civil War service. His obituary in the paper states he fought at Gettysburg, and was at Appomattox for Lee's surrender. Careful searching discovered that his unit was at Gettsyburg, but was kept in reserve at Little Round Top; didn't see action there.
He also was mustered out three months before Lee surrendered. Go figure. :-)
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2147
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Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 6:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

lol right...

I am very aware of how the passage of time can alter a chain of events as well as memories of those that were around during the time of said event.

I made my first attempt to inquire about Sgt Johnson in his old neighborhood. Stopped by the house in which he, his wife Katrina Johnson and 18 month old son lived in at the time of his death. Surprisingly it was a nice looking one story brick home that sits vacant but in excellent condition.

It's funny however, that it seems that very few of the people that I talked with in the few hours I was there remember the story very well if at all (I purposely asked anyone that appeared to be in their mid 40's to 50's since he would have been 58 years old this year).

This is going to be a lot harder than I thought. Even when I showed the articles that ran between 29 April and 4 May of '71, alot still didn't seem to be able to remember that story.
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2148
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 6:58 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What thus far in my research through the articles in the Freep and the News is:

  • He graduated from Northwestern Highschool in January (?) 1967
  • He served in SE Asia until the moment when he earned the MoH (which was the only combat his unit experienced his whole year)
  • Upon returning stateside he and a cousin from the Airforce spent months trying to find work ( no one wanted to deal with unemployed Vietnam Vets at that time).
  • Once he recieved his MoH from President Johnson, it seemed as if everyone wanted Sgt Johnson the MoH winner from Vietnam to be an employee of theirs.
  • He re enlisted with the Army and the Army made him a recruiter, although he was playing a PR role moreso than recruiting aside from going to a few highschools in the area.
  • After he and his family moved into 13689 Allonby, he struggled to make the mortgage payments and soon fell nine months behind by the summer of 1970.
  • Due to ulcers (possibly created by the stress that he was under) he was admitted to the Valley Forge Army Hospital, in Phoenixville, PA. He was released to take leave but never returned to due to some issues that he had here (auto accident, wife having complications with their second child on the way.


This is just what I picked up from the News and the Freep.
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Rustic
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Username: Rustic

Post Number: 1909
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Posted From: 130.132.177.245
Posted on Tuesday, December 20, 2005 - 7:40 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

D_S there is a NYTimes op-ed(?) article re Dwight Johnson sometime after his death which told his story and was one of the early mainstream media descriptions of "vietnam syndrome" which we now call PTSD.
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Ray1936
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Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 149
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Posted From: 207.200.116.134
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 2:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Stylin', I received one more interesting response from an old DPD colleague. I'll quote:

"I think the name of the party store was the Village Pantry. (Officer R.S.) and I got a run there about a month or two after this incident and the owner had shot another holdup man. He shot him right in the end of his nose and the bullet lodged in his sinus cavity, and he lived. He had powder burns all over his face and looked like a raccoon. I remember telling him that he must not have been up on his current events if he was trying to rob that store. By the way, he was white and had a toy gun. That owner killed several holdup men and was subsequently killed himself by a holdup man."
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2155
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 2:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ray you have been a wealth of information...

In case you were wondering I am collecting information because I am actually trying to reconstruct the last year of his life, for a book that I hopefully will be able to write on it. After hours of searching on the internet I found nothing aside from the him having a small passage in other MoH books detaling only the event that led to his getting awarded it. Very little on his life post- Army...

So Ray like I said, you have been a wealth of info. Keep it coming as you get it...
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Ray1936
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Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 150
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Posted From: 207.200.116.134
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 3:42 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Will do. Count me as your first customer if the book is a 'go'.
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 2158
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.202.227.12
Posted on Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - 4:12 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

No question Ray...

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