Norman Johnson was born on Staten Island, New York on 16 January 1925. His father was an electrician. In the afternoons, Johnson worked for his father while attending school. He heard over the radio about the Japanese the attack on Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. He was drafted into the Army in 1943. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer pauses interview to fix microphone on the interviewee.] Johnson served with the 8th Infantry Division [Annotator's Note: Company D, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division ] in Europe. He remembers that the trip across the Atlantic during the winter was really rough. The ship finally landed in Northern Ireland. There, they continued training for combat.
Norman Johnson and his unit [Annotator's Note: Company D, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division] were ordered to leave England and move into France to relieve some of the airborne troops on the beaches of Normandy [Annotator's Note: Normandy, France]. As Johnson and his unit came upon the town near the beachhead, there was one instance where he saw some French crying, but when they saw their church was still standing, the people began to smile. Johnson and his unit entered Saint-Lo [Annotator's Note: Saint-Lo, France] to secure the city, and saw that it was completely bombed. He describes the slow-going process of moving across Europe after the fighting was over and the danger of leaving a tank unprotected.
Norman Johnson remembered fighting through the hedgerow and using machine guns to fight the enemy. [Annotator's note: The interviewee takes a long pause from 0:34:42.000 to 0:35:14.000 and then gets up to find his notes at 0:35:25.000.] Johnson and his unit [Annotator's Note: Company D, 1st Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division] moved through Luxembourg still protecting the tanks from enemy attack.
Norman Johnson recalls moving through France and into Germany and how many of the people stood down and surrendered as the Americans secured the towns. They were relieved to see the American Army coming through. Johnson recalled the Battle of Hurtgen Forest as a fierce fight and remembers being told to hug a tree if he heard an explosion. After he made it through the forest, the enemy had begun to retreat and surrender, so he began to feel that the war was coming to an end. Johnson was selected for a 45 day leave [Annotator's Note: an authorized absence for a short period of time] and headed back to the United States. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer pauses the interview to change tapes at 0:51:00:000.] They arrived in New York [Annotator's Note: New York, New York] Harbor and Johnson was relieved to see the Statue of Liberty. When he disembarked from the ship, he made a call to his girlfriend and then a call to his parents.
Norman Johnson was on a 45 day leave [Annotator's Note: an authorized absence for a short period of time] and by the time he reported to return to war, the Japanese had surrendered. Johnson was angry at the Germans for causing so much damage and destruction. Johnson's most memorable experience was fighting through the Hurtgen Forest. He fought because he had no choice, but he knew he had a job he had to do. Johnson is thankful that the Americans were successful and proud that he was part of it. He believes that its essentials to have institutions to like The National WWII Museum [Annotator's Note: in New Orleans, Louisiana] and to continue to teach it to future generations.
All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You may receive the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only the specific clips that you requested. Please contact the Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to four weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address.
Your browser is out of date!
To get the best possible experience using our website, we recommend that you upgrade or download an alternative web browser. Downloading a new browser will make internet browsing safer as well as more enjoyable.