Gordon Michael JohnsonPrivate First Class
B CO, 2ND BN, 1ST INF RGT, 196 INF BDE
Army of the United States
07 March 1950 - 11 September 1970
Panel 07W Line 055
The database page for Gordon Michael Johnson
A memorial from his friend and sister-in-law and his nephew
Awhile back, I set some time aside and took the small journey to the Moving Wall in Altamonte Springs, to see the name of my uncle and my namesake engraved on those black panels. It was a beautiful sunny Florida day, and I thought it would be good to pay some respect to the folks who gave of themselves in the name of freedom. I never actually had the opportunity to meet my uncle, as he was taken from this life before I came into it. Growing up I heard very little about him, as it was just too painful for my father to talk of his little brother.
When I arrived my first impression was surprise at the number of people, young and old alike, who turned out to see this moving monument. I was taken by the somberness that you could actually feel being near that wall. Many were touching a name with one hand, and a clinched tissue to their tear-stained face with the other. Mothers crying for their dear children the violence of war had snatched from them. Siblings wondering what life would have been like had the draft skipped the name of their loved one. Children thinking of the fathers they never knew. The pain was so immense and real it was as if the war was yesterday, not 25 years ago. The reality of the war had set in for the first time for me.
I went to a tent set up nearby and asked for the name I was looking for. I was given a computer printout with a blank spot and a crayon for rubbing the name onto it, and directions to where the name could be found. As I found my way to the place where his name was etched among the 58 thousand others I was moved almost to tears as I finally saw his name: Gordon M. Johnson. I quickly rubbed his name onto the paper and backed up as others were crowding around me, trying to see the names of their loved ones.
Something happens when you see all those names. It's not just sad, it's overwhelming. You only see names, not the stories behind them. You don't read of the agony of parents hearing the news they dreaded was inevitable, that their baby was gone. You can't see the new mothers who prayed night and day that their husbands would come home, only to learn of another name being added to the casualties of the conflict. Truly, a new respect for these names was setting in my heart.
That night I could think of little, other than the Wall. I added some names to a list of my own: my list of heroes. First, I added PFC Gordon M. Johnson. I've never been prouder to bear the name I have, for it represents a man who, when all is said and done, gave his life for the freedom I enjoy, and often take for granted.
You can say what you want about the war, the politics behind the war; the political correctness and all that garbage; but the truth that rings out in me are the names of the men who fought and died for this nation. These men, though many were young in age, were mighty in courage. They were patriots, willing to go into some of the worst places on earth and have their lives sacrificed so others could live without the tyranny of bondage. He died that others may live. And for that I will proudly and humbly bear his name, though I wonder if I'm worthy of such an honor.
Another name was added to my list last night: my dear grandmother, a woman as far from politics, guns, and the violence of war as any could be. She fights a greater battle than us all, the battle of filling the void left by losing her 19 year old baby in a war few could understand. She's a woman with several children, many, many grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, yet none of us, as much as she loves us, could ever fill the void created in those jungles of south east Asia.
My father went on the list as well. I never realized what he has paid for this country. Not only did he fight for nearly two years in that God forsaken land; not only did he give his life and career for 21 years to the US Armed Forces; but he lost more than most can even comprehend. He lost his little brother. I can't even imagine what he was thinking when he stared at that Wall. I just can't imagine.
Over 30 years ago, in a land far from this country, a war was fought that changed the lives of millions forever. Thousands from our country died, and even more of their own people died in that, the bloodiest of civil wars. Whatever people say or think about that war or our involvement in it, I caution them to be careful with their words, for the brave blood of men, patriots, of this great nation was spilled on that soil, and for that we owe our highest and deepest respect.
Gordon M. Johnson, II
I served with Gordon M. "Mike" Johnson in Viet Nam. I was at his side the day he was killed. He was my friend. He always had an uplifting thing to say and a smile was not far from his face. Everyone in the squad could depend on Mike, he pulled his weight and more. That morning he volunteered to go with me to remove the early warning device from our perimeter. As I disconnected the device, the shots rang out that took Mike from his family, friends and Country. I will never forget that awful day or forget the brave men like Mike that I was honored to serve with. I hope his family can find peace in knowing Mike was a dedicated soldier and a wonderful person who gave his all for his Country.
He was my friend.
Charles F. "Chuck" Wilson
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
his friend and sister-in-law and his nephew.
E-mail address is not available. 21 Dec 2001
Top of Page|
With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 11/13/2010