His name was Solomon Johnson. Born in Summit Point in 1894, he was the son of Barger and Nancy Robinson Johnson. In response to the Selective Service Act, Solomon Johnson registered in the United States Armed Services on June 5, 1917. He is described as short and slender with brown eyes. His age is listed as 22 years. His marital status is earmarked as single. Private Johnson was summoned to active duty to serve in the United States Army to support World War I.
Private Johnson was dispatched to Camp Lee in Prince George County, VA, for his basic training. He was assigned to the 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division. The 93rd Division was an all-Black combat Division. On March 14, 1918, he, along with his comrades, boarded the USS Pocahontas at Port Hoboken, NJ, the main point of embarkation for the American Expeditionary Forces headed to battle in Europe. Private Johnson, along with his comrades, disembarked in France.
The 369th Infantry was among the first forces to arrive in France to participate in trench warfare. They were assigned to the 16th and 161st Divisions of the French Army under French command and assigned French wartime gear, including weapons, helmets, belts and pouches, but wore American uniforms. The U.S. officials refused to integrate combat forces. The 369th participated in the occupation of Champagne (April 8-July 4), participated in the Champagne-Marne Operation (July15-18), occupied the Calvaire Subsector (July 23-August 19), occupied the Beausejour Subsector (Sept. 11-15), participated in the Meuse-Argonne Operation (Sept. 26 to Oct. 8) after which rehabilitation efforts began, and participated in the occupation of a Thur subsector, Alsace, (Oct. 17 – Nov. 11). On December 12, 1918, the regiment was relieved from duty with the French Army. The 369th spent 191 days in combat, longer than any other American unit in World War I. The entire regiment was awarded the Croix de Guerre from France.
On October 2, 1918, Private Solomon Johnson was killed in battle in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, the largest, deadliest offensive which led to ending World War I. His name is on the Tablets of the Missing at the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial, Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Lorraine, France.
Sources: World War I Draft Registration Cards; West Virginia Division of Culture and History; U. S. Army WWI Transport Service, Passenger Lists; Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War, American Expeditionary Forces; The National Archives; World War I Dead, American Expeditionary Forces; and The American Battle Monuments Commission.
Written and submitted by the Marshall-Holley-Mason Auxiliary American Legion Unit 102