Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry), U.S. Army
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate),
Date of Action: January 30 & 31, 1968


The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to James H. Johnson, Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry), U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate). Lieutenant Colonel Johnson distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 30 and 31 January 1968 as commander of an airborne infantry battalion on a combat mission near Tuy Hoa. During the early morning hours of 30 January, his unit was called to aid an artillery battery which had been overrun by a North Vietnamese Army force. After making an estimate of the situation, Colonel Johnson committed a company size reaction force to counterattack the enemy and quickly established his forward command post at the battery's perimeter. Repeatedly exposing himself to savage hostile automatic weapons, mortar and small arms fire, he skillfully directed his troops' assault which forced the North Vietnamese to withdraw to a nearby village. Colonel Johnson led his company in pursuit of the enemy, set up a second command post on high ground overlooking the hamlet and determined that the North Vietnamese were occupying previously constructed fortified positions. Continuing to brave intense hostile fire, he moved forward with his assault element and, upon meeting stiff resistance from the dug-in enemy force, decided to employ a riot control agent. Colonel Johnson then personally led his troops through a withering hail of bullets into the village. Carrying his radio on his back, he moved throughout the battle area, encouraging and inspiring his men's fierce fight. When it became apparent that his company was combating an entire North Vietnamese Army battalion, Colonel Johnson ordered his troops to pull back, boarded his command and control helicopter and, from the air directed devastating artillery and air strikes on the enemy. He then landed and heedless of relentless hostile fire, maneuvered another element of his unit into positions surrounding the village, blocking the enemy's escape routes. Throughout the night, Colonel Johnson adjusted the artillery, mortar and gunship fire on the enemy fortifications, and the following morning accompanied his infantrymen in a final assault against them. His gallant and exemplary leadership in close combat was responsible for an overwhelming victory over the numerically superior North Vietnamese. Lieutenant Colonel Johnson's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

HQ US Army, Vietnam, General Orders No. 2247 (May 14, 1968)


DSC Awardees