PRESENTATION CEREMONY AT THE WHITE HOUSE, NOVEMBER 19, 1968.
Dwight H. Johnson receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson. Source: National Archives
Medal of Honor to Five Members of the United States Army. Citation for Dwight H.
Johnson read by Secretary of the Army Stanley R. Resor.
Please be seated.
Secretary Resor, General Westmoreland, distinguished Members of the Congress, distinguished
guests and members of the families:
Our hearts and our hopes are turned to peace as we assemble here in the East Room this
morning. All of our efforts are being bent in its pursuit.
But in this company we hear again, in our minds, the sound of distant battles. This room
echoes once more to those words that describe the heights of bravery in war: "above and
beyond the call of duty."
Five heroic sons of America come to us today from the tortured fields of Vietnam. They
come to remind us that so long as that conflict continues, our purpose and our hopes
rest on the steadfast bravery of young men in battle.
These five soldiers, in their separate moments of supreme testing, summoned a degree of
courage that stirs wonder and respect and an overpowering pride in all of us.
Through their spectacular courage, they set themselves apart in a very select company.
They represent the contribution of more than a half a million young Americans to a world
of order and of peace.
Other bitter days, and other battles, still lie ahead. I cannot emphasize strongly enough
that we have not attained peace—only the possibility of peace. We shall need in the days
ahead all the courage, and all the steadiness, and all the wisdom that the brilliant commander
of these men, General Westmoreland, has evidenced throughout this terrible ordeal and
that these men bring evidence of here today.
Other brave men will be called upon to perform other brave acts, before the search for
peace yields a settlement at the conference table. But men like these have brought us the
distance that we've traveled. And men like these will see us the rest of the way.
Freedom will be forever in their debt. And finally, that prize for which all the world
hungers will be their monument—the work of heroes who stood fast, when standing fast
was really the only true way to a lasting and to an honorable peace.
Secretary Resor will now read the citations.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863,
has awarded in the name of The Congress the Medal of Honor to Specialist 5 Dwight H.
Johnson, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the
risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.
Specialist 5 Dwight H. Johnson distinguished himself on January 15, 1968 near Dak To,
Republic of Vietnam. Specialist Johnson, a tank driver with Company B, 1st Battalion,
69th Armor, was a member of a reaction force moving to aid other elements of his platoon,
which was in heavy contact with a battalion size North Vietnamese force. Specialist
Johnson's tank threw a track and he became immobilized. Realizing that he could do no
more as a driver, he climbed out, armed only with a pistol. Despite intense hostile fire,
Specialist Johnson killed several enemy soldiers before he had expended his ammunition.
Returning to his tank through a heavy volume of fire, he obtained a submachine gun with
which to continue his fight against the advancing enemy. Engaged in extremely close
combat when the last of his ammunition was expended, he killed an enemy soldier with
the stock end of his submachine gun. Now weaponless, he ignored the enemy fire around
him, climbed into his platoon sergeant's tank, extricated a wounded crew member and
carried him to an armored personnel carrier. He then returned to the same tank and
assisted in firing the main gun until it jammed. Specialist Johnson again left the
tank and armed only with a pistol, engaged several North Vietnamese troops. Fighting
his way through devastating fire and remounting his own immobilized tank, he remained
fully exposed to the enemy as he engaged them with the tank's externally-mounted
machine gun. Specialist Johnson's conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his life, is
in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great
credit upon himself and the United States Army.
Someone said some time ago, "How many of these things has the President awarded?"
And that caused me to reflect a little bit about "these things"—these Medals
There are some 4 1/2 million people that make up the defense of this country—military
and civilian. And in the history of the Congressional Medal of Honor, there have been
something like a little over 3,000 awarded. And this President has awarded, I believe, less
than 30. Out of 200 million Americans, I have awarded only 30 Congressional Medals of Honor.
And to these modest men who never thought that they would be here any more than I ever
thought I would be where I am, I want to remind you of what another President said upon
another occasion: That I'd rather be able to have that blue band around my neck with
the Congressional Medal of Honor than to be the President of the United States.
That is an honor that is not accorded to the President. Although he occupies the honored
position formerly held by Black Jack Pershing and formerly held by George Marshall,
General Westmoreland, their brilliant commander, cannot wear that blue ribbon. It goes
to a very select and special group of men. And you are a part of that group.
So, to you and your families, and on behalf of all the people of this country and the
free world whom you have sought to protect and whose freedom you have tried to insure,
I say we thank you and we are grateful to you.
And we are proud of the honor that the Congress has authorized be conferred upon you.
I hope, and I believe, that your efforts will not have been in vain. And as long as
Americans love their liberty and revere their freedom, they'll owe a very special
debt to you men who wear that blue ribbon.
And for your families we'll have a little reception line and I hope to be able to thank each
of you who have gone through this with them too.
Thank you very much.