by: Jeff Dore Updated:
COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Forty-six years after a bomb ripped him up in Vietnam, a Cobb County man received a long-overdue Purple Heart today.
Ch. 2’s Jeff Dore was there to see Sen. Johnny Isakson present the medal to Ray Johnson.
Johnson was in and out of so many military hospitals for his war wounds that the records vanished.
In 1967, the 19-year-old draftee was the point man clearing mines from a road and hit a trip-wire hidden in a hedgerow.
“It exploded and blew me about 25 or 30 feet out into the clearing. And then from there I was evacuated,” Johnson said.
Medics rushed him through three evac hospitals and two larger hospitals.
“Through all that transit, all my records and everything was lost,” Johnson said.
Johnson had given up on proving he deserved a Purple Heart, but his children convinced him to send one more time for records. They finally found one document with a mention of his wounds, enough for Isakson's office to present him with the medal.
Within three weeks, in front of his wife, children and grandchildren, Johnson got the Purple Heart.
“What an honor it is for me today to recognize him and what an honor it is for America to know there are great citizens like Ray Johnson who unselfishly served so all of us could live free, peaceful and happy as American families,” Isakson said.
Johnson’s family said he never talked about his experiences.
“He never ever speaks about it,” Johnson’s daughter, Jennifer Morgan, said.
“They were all shrapnel wounds. I think 17 total, in both legs, both hips and right shoulder,” Johnson said
“Well, he's always been our hero,” Morgan said.
As his children said, they've always been proud of him. Now it's official, his nation is, too.