Louisiana’s Fort Polk Army Base Renamed To Fort Johnson In Honor Of Black WWI Hero

Louisiana’s Fort Polk Army Base Renamed To Fort Johnson In Honor Of Black WWI Hero

An Army base located in western Louisiana has been renamed in honor of a Black soldier who served in the First World War and received the Medal of Honor.

According to The Associated Press, the previously named Fort Polk (previously named after a Confederate commander, Leonidas Polk) is now Fort Johnson, renamed after Sgt. William Henry Johnson.

Johnson received the Medal of Honor nearly a century after serving on the front lines of France in 1918. He helped fight off a German night raid near the Argonne Forest, according to the National Museum of the United States Army.

While beating back attacking enemies, Johnson was wounded 21 times. He reportedly prevented another Black soldier from being taken as a prisoner when he killed two German soldiers using his knife after running out of grenades and ammunition.

The United States military is making a concerted effort to rename Army posts that are/or have been named after Confederate officers. The Army is in the process of renaming nine Army posts after Black soldiers and women.

Former President Theodore Roosevelt named Johnson one of the five bravest Americans to serve in World War I. The former soldier was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2015 “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Although Johnson literally risked his life and limb for the Army, he was denied a disability allowance and did not receive a Purple Heart. He struggled with the injuries he suffered in combat returning home to Albany, NY, and died of a heart condition in 1929. He was only 32 years old.