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Memorial Day -Town Honors Its Own



It is always interesting to see what local heroes a town honors over the years. Memorial Day – in remembering its own past and fallen soldiers is a good place to see if any ancestors of yours have been, or might in the future, be honored by their hometown. A good example is the story in Stuart, Florida as it honors with a special monument and bronze plaque one of its one native sons who was killed during World War One. There was full agreement by the local veteran groups and the city commission to have the special dedication of the monument and plaque on Memorial Day. This is the story of US Army Pvt. Harold R. Johns, nearly 100 years later.

With the United States entrance into the ‘Great War’ (World War One) on April 6, 1917, there was also a call for volunteers and registration for drafting of young men to serve in the military was established in May 1917. In the Stuart, Jensen, Hobe Sound and Salerno areas, many local fellows answered the call to service. Many were sent overseas, some wounded and survived but also numerous others did not survive the fields of battle.

One of Stuart’s local boys, Harold R. Johns, son of Morris and Augusta Johns, was born in Stuart on September 25, 1895. Soon after the U.S. entered the war, Harold enlisted in June 1917, reporting to service by August with special engineering training at Camp Wheeler and Camp Hancock during the following nine months. Private Johns was sent overseas May 18, 1918 with the U.S. Army, Company E, 103rd engineers, 28th Division. There was considerable military action across France during the next few months. Harold dodged many bullets until September 27, 1918, when he was wounded near the town of Varennes, during the battles at Meuse-Argonne or ‘No Man’s Land’ as it was often described.

At U. S. Army Field Hospital, No. 41, Pvt. Johns was taken in grave condition. His Red Cross nurse Amy Ware cared for Harold for three long agonizing days until his death on September 30th from battle wounds. Pvt. Johns was buried temporarily in a military grave in France, until the body could be transported back to Stuart in July 1921. Flags in town flew at half-mast all day Wednesday, July 20 and Thursday, the 21st. A full military honor ceremony was held that Thursday after which Harold was buried at Fernhill Cemetery. The local Legion was established June 1, 1919 to benefit veterans and families, named Harold Johns American Legion Post 62.

On the monument will the special sculpture titled ‘Above and Beyond‘ by Eduardo Gomez.

Photos: Pvt. Harold R. Johns and photo of the sculpture.

Related FamilyTree.com Blogs:

Ancestors of World War I

A Veteran’s Story

WW I Draft Registrations

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