Lawton Walker Johnson, WWII Sailor

Lawton Walker Johnson, son of JHP Johnson and Chloe Gardner Johnson,  was born June 14, 1908 in Ray City, GA.  During WWII, he joined in the US Navy , enlisting November 2, 1943. His younger brother, Max Maurice Johnson, was serving in the Army Air Force as pilot of a B-24 Liberator bomber.

Lawton Walker Johnson, WWII Sailor

Lawton Walker Johnson, WWII Sailor, grew up in Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Navy Cruise Books for World War II show Lawton Walker Johnson served on the escort carrier USS Hollandia as a Seaman 1c, USNR.

“Hollandia sailed on her maiden voyage July 10, 1944 from San Diego for a shakedown cruise to Espiritu Santo. She also transported replacement aircraft on this cruise, and on the return voyage stopped at Manus Island and Guadalcanal, arriving Port Hueneme, California on  August 27, 1944. During the next few months the escort carrier made similar cruises between the United States and the Navy’s bases in the far Pacific, Manus, Ulithi, and Guam, transporting vitally-needed supplies and passengers.”

USS Hollandia off the coast of California in 1944.

USS Hollandia off the coast of California in 1944.

“Hollandia was anchored at Ulithi on April 1, 1945 when the Navy’s massive amphibious assault of Okinawa began. She got underway next day and operated off the Okinawan coast, sending fighters to support the advancing troops. The ship then returned to San Diego, arriving on May 1, 1945.”

Navy records show Lawton Walker Johnson died June 3, 1945 while on active duty, his death “resulting directly from enemy action or from operational activities against the enemy in war zones.”  About that time, Hollandia was on a cargo and passenger run to Pearl Harbor.

Just two months after Johnson’s death, Hollandia would be pressed into service transporting survivors of the ill-fated USS Indianapolis to a Navy hospital.   Indianapolis was torpedoed and sunk after completing the secret mission to deliver parts and the enriched uranium (about half of the world’s supply of Uranium-235 at the time) for the atomic bomb Little Boy, which would later be dropped on Hiroshima.

USS Indianapolis survivors on the USS Hollandia.

Lawton Walker Johnson was laid to final rest at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.  In 1947 his father, JHP Johnson, applied for and received a government provided marker for his grave.

 

Lawton Walker Johnson, as    a casualty of WWII, received a government-provided grave marker.

Lawton Walker Johnson, as a casualty of WWII, received a government-provided grave marker.

 

 

Grave of Lawton Walker Johnson, Ray City, GA

Grave of Lawton Walker Johnson, Ray City, GA

 

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