Ralph Johnson was born on January 11, 1949, in Charleston, South Carolina. He attended Courtnay Elementary School and Simonton Jr. High School in Charleston, South Carolina.
Johnson enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve at Oakland, California on March 23, 1967, and was discharged to enlist in the regular Marine Corps on July 2, 1967.
Upon completion of recruit training with the 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, MCRD San Diego, California, in September 1967, he was transferred to the Camp Pendleton, California. He underwent individual combat training with Company Y, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, and basic infantry training with the Basic Infantry Training Company, 2nd Infantry Training Regiment, completing the latter in November 1967. He was promoted to private first class on November 1, 1967.
In January 1968, he arrived in the Republic of Vietnam, and served as a reconnaissance scout with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division.
On March 5, 1968, while on Operation Rock, deep in enemy-held territory near the Quan Duc Valley, his 15-man reconnaissance patrol was attacked by a platoon-sized enemy force. When a hand grenade landed in the fighting hole he shared with fellow Marines, he yelled a warning and immediately hurled his body over the explosive charge. Absorbing the full impact of the blast, he was killed instantly. His heroic actions on that day were recognized with a posthumous award of the United States' highest military decoration — the Medal of Honor.
Ralph H. Johnson is buried in the Beaufort National Cemetery in South Carolina.
Read more about this topic: Ralph H. Johnson
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