World War II and Korean War veteran Benjamin F. Johnson Sr. of Lady's Island died Friday at age 94.
Johnson enlisted in the Army soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 and served two years in England in a segregated unit, driving trucks that carried bombs to battalions throughout the country.
In an interview with The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet in 2012, he discussed the frustration he and other unit members felt about not being allowed to fight because they were black.
In 1950, he got his chance to see combat when he was sent to Korea. There he was wounded, receiving a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
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He married his wife, Ardell Holmes Johnson, before he enlisted, on Dec. 21, 1941.
He'd met her when she was a student in Coosaw, just north of Beaufort. He had grown up across St. Helena Sound in Bennetts Point.
She raised their seven children -- five boys and two girls -- in Philadelphia while he served overseas.
After about a year in Korea, his unit was ambushed, and Johnson was shot in the hands and torso, wounds that shattered his wrists and split open his stomach.
After Johnson recovered, he returned to the Army but never served in combat again. He was stationed overseas, except for a few visits home, until he retired in 1962.
In 2004, he and Ardell decided to spend the rest of their lives together where they first met. They left Philadelphia and returned to the Lowcountry to build a house on land she had bought more than 60 years earlier.
Ardell died Feb. 8, 2012, in that house on the northern tip of Lady's Island by the Coosaw River. She was 88 and died peacefully at Johnson's side after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease, about six weeks after their 70th anniversary.
Wake services for Benjamin Johnson will be from 6 to 8 p.m.Friday at Friendship Baptist Church on Coosaw Island. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the church. There will be no viewing after the eulogy. Burial will follow in the church cemetery, with full military honors.
Marshel's Wright-Donaldson Home for Funerals is in charge of arrangements.
- A soldier's story: Decorated veteran of all-black regiment perseveres through physical, emotional pain , Feb. 25, 2012