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Tribute and Memorial to 

Robert Allen Johnson

November 5, 1913 - February 15, 2005

Click on Memorial picture to find Robert Allen Johnson's tribute 

on the

National WW II Memorial

Letters from home and back

I have been very fortunate in my life to be exposed to several common heroes.  Bob Johnson is one of them.  It is fitting and appropriate that I respectfully add my Father-in law to my brother Ken's web site.

Bob Johnson was born on November 5, 1913 near Braddyville, Iowa.  He was born to Clyde A. Johnson and Grace E. (Lathrop) Johnson.  

Bob passed away on February 15, 2005 at Clarinda Regional Health Center

He is laid to rest in Shearer Cemetery in Braddyville Iowa.  He is laid as close as a mile from where he was born.


Bob's funeral announcement click on image to enlarge

Braddyville is located several miles South of Clarinda, Iowa where Bob lived the last years of his life.  

Braddyville is a farming community of rolling farm land separated by rows of brush, and woods.  Creeks run all through the area.  From the time anyone can remember Bob Johnson hunted and trapped throughout the area when he was not farming.  He was an extraordinary outdoorsman.  He always seemed to be more comfortable in the woods and fields than anywhere else.

Before the war Bob left Braddyville with his brother looking for work.  They worked across the country in places like Imnaha, Oregon, and in California. Bob drove teams of horses in various farming areas.

He was in Canby, California on December 7, 1941when the Japanese struck US soil without warning.  Bob Johnson was 28 years old.  Like so many of his fellow Americans he was moved to act on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor declaring war upon the United States of America.  I can only imagine what went through his mind when he heard news of the attack. 

Take the time and click on the Microphone to view a site and listen to some of the actual radio broadcasts from several news agencies on December 7, 1941.   I wonder which of these Bob Johnson may have heard.

And listened to President Franklin D. Roosevelt speak to the nation the December 8, 1941 the following day.

Click on the towers to hear President Roosevelt's radio address on December 8, 1941


A copy of President Roosevelt's address.  Click on image to enlarge

The words must have hit very hard for Bob Johnson because by December 13, 1941 he had joined the United States Marine Corp in Denver, Colorado, apparently making the trip from Canby, California (according to documents provided).  I wonder what he was thinking as he traveled the distance.  I imagine he thought about destroying the Japanese and returning home.

After basic training Bob got his wish to fight the Japanese.

Assigned to active duty December 13, 1941

His war campaigns in the Pacific Theater from December 20. 1942 to May 30, 1943 and from November 10, 1944 to October 19, 1945:

May 26, 1942 - July 2, 1942 - The defense of Midway Island

26 May USS Kittyhawk arrives at Midway with crucial air and ground reinforcements.
28 May Japanese Occupation Force sails from Saipan for Midway.
30 May Two PBYs of VP-44 sustain damage in aerial contact with twin-engined Japanese bombers to westward.
4 June Battle of Midway commences, including air-strike by VMSB-241 against Japanese Striking Force; fighter-defense of Midway by VMF-221; and heavy anti-aircraft action by 6th Defense Battalion (reinforced). Midway sustains major damage from Japanese air-raid.
5 June VMSB-241 attacks and damages Japanese cruisers retiring to westward.
6 June Japanese communiqué states: "The Midway Occupation operations have been temporarily postponed."


August 9, 1942 to February 8, 1943 - Action against the enemy at Guadalcanal. Visit this journal page to see another Marines account of what took place.

He was also on the island of Tulagi during this campaign.

April 1, 1945 to June 21, 1945 - Served at Okinawa on Ryukyu Island

Apr 01, 1945 — Marines and Army forces land on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands


Jun 21, 1945 — Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, is declared secured 82 days after the landing

Japanese surrender on September 2, 1945

Robert A. Johnson was a Private First Class

He became a Marksman - Rifle on August 12, 1943

His duties are listed as: 

Machine Gun Crewman

Field Artillery Crewman



Bob Johnson Honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corp October 30, 1945

Here is a poem by Bob Johnson.  He had taught his daughter the poem of Sam McGee.  They could recite different sections back and forth between themselves.  I imagine this poem about his experiences in the war is much like that of The Cremation of Sam McGee.

Experience of a U.S. Marine

By Robert Johnson


Bill Smith was a peaceful guy

An American boy for fair.

He had no quarrel with anyone

But a war was in the air.


The draft it made him pretty mad

‘Cause he liked his freedom well.

The inside of an army camp

Looked to him like so much hell.


He’d followed a plow on an Iowa farm

And drawn a cowhands wage.

He’d worked beside the lumberjack

He loved the smell of the pine sage.


On December 7 of ’41 he was out with

That special date.

The happiest guy in all the world

With his school ma’m and a Ford V8.


When he heard about Pearl Harbor

How the Japs had struck us there.

He could hardly believe the radio

It sure got in his hair.


He tho’t, I’ve waited long enough,

A little too long it seems.

So to help make up for this lost time

I’ll join the U.S. Marines.


I’ve heard that they are the first to fight

These soldiers of the sea

They carry the war where the enemies are

Now that’s the outfit for me.


His mother and sweetheart kissed him

His father shook his hand.

His throat was full as he said goodbye

To his dear ones and his native land.


He joined up in Denver

Had to stand in line.

It seemed a lot of other boys

Craved a shot at those Nipponese swine.


The recruiting Sergeants gaudy blues

Made him stop and look again.

But when he looked into their eyes

He knew that they were men.


The Dr. looked him over

And said "You’re all O.K."

The old first Sergeant took his oath,

Another fighting man was on his way.


T’was his first trip by Pullman

The chow and the service were grand.

They cheered him at every station

And even broke out with a band.


He got to San Diego

A Sergeant met him there.

Took him to the Marine base

And cut off all his hair.


They throwed him into boot camp

Oh! What an awful place.

With every kind of critter

That’s known as the human race.


To get his uniform he waited

There in line for hours.

Then he could walk half way across the deck

And never move the trousers.


There was a snooty Corporal there

The rules said call him "Sir".

Bill swore, "If I ever make two stripes

I’ll skin off all his fur."


He had to salute that rascal

And shine his liberty shoes.

Before the second day was o’er

He was singing those boot camp blues.


The chow was good but awfully scarce

Of candy there was none.

Bill swore he’d barbecue that D.I.

And eat the son of a gun.


He told that D.I. where to go

They throwed him in the brig.

Then handed him a shovel

And showed him where to dig.


They took him to the rifle range

Said, "This is how my lad."

Bill found some brand new muscles

He didn’t know he had.


When he was tired of snappin in

And his muscles all were sore.

Along came the coach and said

"my lad, we’ll just snap in some more."


Then when record day came round

He shot a darn good score.


He’d been working awfully hard

Before we ship him out.

We’ll give him 6 hr. liberty

And let him roam about.


He went to San Diego

There was nothing he could find.

There wasn’t any women

And there wasn’t any wine.


He sailed for Pearl Harbor on Washington’s


Rarin’ to get right close to a Jap

With nothing in his way.


He went to fair Hawaii

Where the passion flower blooms.

But the only Hulu he could find

Was in the Honolulu rooms.


He started out to Midway

On the_13th_day of December_. **

Got there ahead of Tojo

In time to balk his play.


When he felt the bombs a bursting

And heard the zeros roar.

He knew he joined the right outfit

If he wanted to go to war.


When he saw a zero fall in flames

Before his roaring twenty.

He yelled "Come on you yellow sons of hell

And we will give you plenty."


The battle won and all secure

He returned to Pearl Harbor.

They gave him another 6 hr. leave

So he could visit a barber.


On _August_ _1942_ he sailed again **

Not knowing where he was bound.

But he had a hunch that there would be a fight

‘Ere his feet had touched the ground.


He sailed the seas for _30__days **

Then landed on Tulagi.

Snipers were on every hand

And every plane a bogey.


The situation well in hand

As per usual with Marines.

He was getting mighty hungry

So he looked around for beans.


He found the chow dump all intact

As well as one could wish.

But all those Japs had left behind

Was wormy rice and fish.


For three long weeks he ate the stuff

And got the dysentery

When he got some G.I. grub

He ate all he could carry.


All quiet on Tulagi

The Nips had all been tamed.

They took him over to Guadalcanal

To shoot at aero planes.


Everyday the Japs came o’er

With 26 high bombers

And a flock of whining zeros

A lurking on the corners.


He’d just shot down a zero

And was feeling mighty big.

"Hey," yells the Sergeant. Pvt Smith

there’s a garbage pit to dig."


Now Pistol Pete had a 6 in. gun

Concealed in a jungle valley.

And every time the Marines would start to chow

He’d drop one in their galley.


Maytag Charley every night

Would drop a flare or two.

To show that Jap ship where we were

And tell him what to do.


Then a battleship would open up

And give us all he had.

He hit a few darn good Marines

And made ‘em awful mad.


The navy sent a message

Says, "the Japs are breaking thru.

They will try to land ‘ere morning

Spite of all that we can do."


So the gun crew packed in a driving rain

mid shrapnel from Pistol Pete.

And went down to a jungle beach

Just to have a grandstand seat.


They set their guns up in the dark

And the did the job alright.

Their few short weeks of training

Served them well that night.


The Japs they landed somewhere else

It made him pretty mad.

He didn’t get a single shot

After all the work he’d had.


The army landed on our shore

They bro’t a lot of peaches.

They wouldn’t let the Marines go near

Where they were stacked upon the beaches.


Then came the daily air raid

The army scattered far and wide.

Under logs and in old shell holes

Just anyplace to hide.


The all clear sounds the army crawls out

And came back to the beaches.

They had a lot of corned beef left

The Marines had all the peaches.


Now the armys taking over

The Marines have done their job.

We’ll go aboard a transport

And wrap yarns with gob.


Bill’s proud to be a fighting man

To keep his country free.

And he’s planning all the things

He’s gonna do on his next 6 hr. liberty.


** Dates were blank added at time of writing

I want to take the time and thank June Johnson for lending the documents and some paperwork to authenticate the history of her husband.




                                                           Web Administrator Gerard A. Welch