World War I Soldiers to Posthumously be Awarded Medal of Honor

President Barack Obama on June 2 will posthumously award the Medal of Honor—the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat—to Army Sgt. William Shemin and Army Private Henry Johnson for conspicuous gallantry during World War I, the White House announced Thursday. Shemin served as a member of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces. While serving as a rifleman from Aug. 7-8, 1918, near the Vesle River in Bazoches, France, “Shemin left the cover of his platoon’s trench and crossed open space, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine gun and rifle fire to rescue the wounded,” states the release. “After officers and senior noncommissioned officers [became] casualties, Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire, until he was wounded on Aug. 9.” Johnson served as a member of Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division, American Expeditionary Forces. While on sentry duty near the Tourbe and Aisne Rivers northwest of Saint Menehoul, France, on May 15, 1918, Johnson and a fellow soldier were attacked by 12 German soldiers. Despite heavy enemy fire, “Johnson mounted a brave retaliation resulting in several enemy casualties,” states the release. He exposed himself to “grave danger” and pushed the enemy back, preventing a “badly wounded” fellow soldier from being taken prisoner.