Seaman 1st Class
Johnnie David Hutchins
The Congressional Medal of Honor is this nation's highest military honor. Fewer than 500 Medals of Honor have been awarded for actions performed during World War II.
Navy Seaman First Class Johnnie David Hutchins of Weimer, Texas, was 21 years old when he was killed in action in the Pacific.
He was presented the Medal of Honor posthumously for his actions. The citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous valor above and beyond the call of duty while serving on board a Landing Ship, Tank, during the assault on Lae, New Guinea, 4 September 1943. As the ship on which Hutchins was stationed approached the enemy-occupied beach under a veritable hail of fire from Japanese shore batteries and aerial bombardment, a hostile torpedo pierced the surf and bore down upon the vessel with deadly accuracy. In the tense split seconds before the helmsman could steer clear of the threatening missile, a bomb struck the pilot house, dislodged him from his station, and left the stricken ship helplessly exposed. Fully aware of the dire peril of the situation, Hutchins, although mortally wounded by the shattering explosion, quickly grasped the wheel and exhausted the last of his strength in maneuvering the vessel clear of the advancing torpedo. Still clinging to the helm, he eventually succumbed to his injuries, his final thoughts concerned only with the safety of his ship, his final efforts expended toward the security of his mission. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.
The National WWII Museum features all of the Medal of Honor recipients of WWII in an exhibit in the new US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center.