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The backyard barbecues, beach picnics and garden parties, though fun, should never overshadow the men and women whose ultimate sacrifice made Memorial Day possible. Real people who died on duty protecting and preserving our country, our freedom and our liberties.
Memorial Day is first and foremost a day of remembrance for the soldiers who died while serving in the armed forces. From the great battles at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to the beaches of Normandy, these brave heroes gave their lives to keep our country safe.
The nephew of one of those great Americans is my guest today. Art gallery owner
Dr. George N’Namdi will take us back to the battlegrounds of World War II in 1944 when his uncle and Tuskegee airman, Lt. Langdon E. Johnson flew his fighter plane throughout Europe, was shot down in the Mediterranean Sea and died a hero…IN FRANCE.
Find out more about this fascinating story and why the French, to this day, pay tribute to Lt. Johnson for his ultimate sacrifice to save Europe from Hitler’s army. It’s a Memorial Day program you won’t want to forget.
Rhone American Cemetery in Draguignan, France:
ABOUT LIEUTENANT LANGDON ELMER JOHNSON, Jr.
Lt. Langdon E. Johnson collected an aerial victory six months after arriving in Europe.
Johnson of Rand, W.Va., graduated from flight training on May 28, 1943, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. In December, he deployed to Italy with the 100th Fighter Squadron, part of the 332nd Fighter Group. The 100th Fighter Squadron flew its first combat mission on Feb. 5, 1944.
On July 20, 20 enemy planes attacked the B-24 bombers being escorted by the 332nd Fighter Group to Friedrichshafen, Germany. Capt. Joseph D. Elsberry, Capt. Armour G. McDaniel, Capt. Edward L. Toppins and 1st Lt. Johnson responded: Each pilot shot down one enemy plane.
A few weeks later, however, an escort mission would end in tragedy.
After escorting bombers to Toulon, France, to destroy radar stations on Aug. 12, the 332nd Fighter Group began to anti-aircraft fire. P-51 Mustangs flown by Johnson and 2nd Lt. Joseph E. Gordon were shot down.
"Lt. Johnson was on my right at this time and I was being fired upon by at least 40mm on my left," Capt. Woodrow W. Crockett wrote in a military report. "Lt. Johnson crossed over to my left and straightened on parallel to my plane and at this time his plane hit the water, ripping off the entire right wing, after which the remainder of the plane crashed into the sea. His ship seemed to have been hit by flak before crashing." Johnson's name is included on the Tablets of the Missing at the Rhone American Cemetery and Memorial in France. According to a government database, he was awarded an Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters and a Purple Heart for his military service.
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.