Memorial day isn’t about road trips and barbecues; it’s about saluting the brave and remembering those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
This week we salute a local hero Edward G. Johnson. Johnson is a decorated hero who fought in Vietnam, suffered many losses in the war and lives to share his story to students in high schools around the valley.
At just 19 years old Edward G. Johnson joined the army and went off to war in Vietnam.
“I said, ‘bye mom,’ and that was it I was gone to Vietnam.”
Now, at 71, he’s fighting a different type of battle.
“…Cause combat is embedded in my brain, I will live with this for the rest of my life,” says Johnson.
But he’s dealing with his battle by passing on history first hand to high school students.
“This heals me … A lot of veterans don’t talk about their combat and later in life, they may commit suicide.” He went on to say, “I may still get a little teary eyed and like i say just bear with me because I suffer from PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder.”
On this day, he and two other Vietnam veterans are at Cathedral City high school sharing the painful realities of war.
“Boom, it blew up, it was command detonated, the thing that hurt me the worst … A sergeant came up to me and said, ‘Johnson, we’re going to go pick his body parts up.'”
And he doesn’t hold back any details.
“I had to pick up brains and stuff and brains and fingers and toes and part of his leg and arms and flesh and put it in a poncho and ship it back to base camp.”
The students hang on his every word.
“Nobody was on the phone, nobody fell asleep, they watched us and you know what they’re coming up now and saying, ‘thank you for your service.”
A history lesson they will never forget.
“He’s one of the 58,000 plus on the Vietnam memorial wall in Washington D.C. those are our brothers that didn’t return, said Johnson.”
“But we still honor them every day and we’ll never forget them.”