Profile: Abe Johnson

Portrait of Abe Johnson. (Source: NMAJMH)

Abe Allen Johnson was determined to join the military. At age 16, he tried to enlist in the U.S. Army Infantry Corps, but was rejected for being underweight. When he was 17, the United States declared war, officially involving themselves in World War I. Abe Johnson enlisted again, and was this time accepted. He joined the 102nd Infantry in the 26th Division, also known as the “Yankee Division.” On October 7, 1917, he sailed to France as a Private, and was stationed at the trenches of Ches Mons Les Dames by February 1918.

In October 1918, Johnson was injured in the field and sent to the base hospital. He received a rank promotion to Sergeant at the hospital, but all Johnson wanted to do was join his comrades back in the field. Unfortunately his request was denied. He was told that the only way he would go back in the field was as a private; this meant Johnson would have to accept a demotion. He quickly agreed, and was with his unit again on November 12, the day after the Armistice. This is when the fighting on land, sea, and air came to an end for WWI.

Johnson also received the Distinguished Service Cross for heroic actions from September 1918. His citation reads:

Company G, 102nd Infantry. For extraordinary heroism in action at Marchieville, France, Sept. 26, 1918. This soldier volunteered to accompany a party whose mission was to bombard a hostile machine gun emplacement. Under heavy shell he approached to within 30 feet of the emplacement when he was fired upon through loopholes in a stone wall. Working his way behind the wall, he enfiladed the enemy with rifle fire and effected their capture with the machine gun. 

After his discharge, Abe Johnson returned home to Connecticut, and joined the Governor’s Foot Guards. He became the Top Sergeant for his company in the Connecticut State Guard. He also opened up a chain of stores throughout the New England region called Allen Perfumers.