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USS Bonefish (SS-223) KIA PH & SS Medals


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All,

 

Wanted to share the story of CQM Stuart “Sunny” E. Johnson Jr. who lost his life onboard the USS Bonefish (SS-223) which was presumed to be lost on 19 June 1945 from a Japanese anti-submarine attack. CQM Johnson enlisted October 14, 1940 and was first assigned to the USS West Virginia. Stuart had attended the University of Arkansas for a year prior to his enlistment in 1940 which it appears prompted his father, a newspaper man and military chaplain to petition a senator about his son’s admission to the Naval Academy. It appears Pearl Harbor changed his plans as his date for taking the entrance exam was in April 1942.

 

On December 7th 1941, then S1C Johnson would be at Pearl Harbor on the USS West Virginia during the attack. His parents were mistakenly notified by telegram that he was killed in action. On December 8th he would be transferred to the USS Salt Lake City. He would also serve on the USS Orion prior to getting assigned to the USS Bonefish on March 30, 1944 joining the submarine for its 4th combat patrol. The Bonefish sank 31 vessels for a total tonnage of 158,500 and damaged 7 more during the war. This was the second to last US submarine lost during WWII.

 

CQM Johnson would be posthumously earn the Purple Heart and Silver Star. The All Hands magazine in 1946 lists his Silver Star being awarded. Pictured with the Purple Heart and Silver Star is CQM Johnson’s brothers Navy Good Conduct Medal privately engraved and dated 1953.

 

RIP CQM Johnson and the over 3000 Sailors who perished in the silent service.

 

 

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R.I.P. Chief !

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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Thanks for posting this and keeping the memory of CQM Johnson alive

In Memoriam:
Lieutenant J.Kostelec 1-3 First Special Service Force MIA/PD 4 March 1944 Italy
I HAVE SEEN THE ENEMY AND IT IS DAYLIGHT
Forget about the tips..We'll get hell to pay (AC/DC)
"If you cant get out and run with the big dogs then sit on the porch and bark at the cars going by.."

Have you Hugged a Clown Today?

You Cant Get A Sun Tan On The Moon..





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An amazing group!

 

-Ski

In Memory Of......
Pte Harold Griffiths, 1805, 1/6th Manchester Regt, KIA June 4th, 1915 in Gallipoli
Cpl Isaac Judges, 40494, 6th East Yorkshire Regt, KIA October 3rd, 1917 in Ypres
May they rest in peace.....

MSgt - USAF Retired

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As a collector of Submarine PHs, I am pleased to see this one posted.

 

You never cease to amaze with your amazing medal postings.

 

Thanks for posting and keeping his memory alive!

 

Gary B

ANA LM #1201868, OMSA LM #60, OVMS LM #8348

 

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  • 1 month later...

Exceptional pair of medals, congratulations and thanks for sharing them. No copy of the Silver Star citation in his OPF, I guess. That seems to be (amazingly) not that uncommon an occurrence for Navy valor awards during WW2 and before. For example, in the OPF for a 37-year Navy captain, as thick as a vintage Brooklyn phone directory, there was no copy of the citation for his WWI NC earned commanding a ship, just the transmittal for the medal. And I'm aware of other Navy and Marine WW2 Silver Stars with no citations in the OPFs. If anyone has any suggestions on where a researcher might look, other than the OPF to find a WW2 Navy valor citation such as this one, others might find it useful.

 

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Aerialbridge,

 

This is all I have found in reference to his Silver Star Citation online. I would "assume" the actual citation had more detail.

 

 

Chief Quartermaster Stuart E. Johnson, Jr., United States Navy, was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action while serving aboard the U.S.S. BONEFISH (SS-223) during war patrols in enemy-controlled waters during World War II. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

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kcmo, I share your frustration on an elusive navy Silver Star citation-- nothing in the OPF and the only documentation in a 1948 All Hands that Home of Heroes probably picked up on for their database. I'm pretty sure that if we can ever find the citations, they will contain some intense details about how they were earned. Good luck on finding the citation. Did you find any evidence that Johnson was awarded a posthumous Good Conduct in his file?

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  • 1 month later...

Aerialbridge,

 

This is all I have found in reference to his Silver Star Citation online. I would "assume" the actual citation had more detail.

 

 

Chief Quartermaster Stuart E. Johnson, Jr., United States Navy, was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action while serving aboard the U.S.S. BONEFISH (SS-223) during war patrols in enemy-controlled waters during World War II. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

 

I find this very interesting. The complete lack of detail makes one wonder when exactly the paperwork for this award was submitted. Earlier posts indicate Johnson joined the Bonefish in time for its 4th war patrol. The Bonefish was lost on her 8th patrol. On the 4th through 7th patrols this sub saw considerable action. I'm wondering if this wasn't a "boilerplate" citation to accompany an award that was part of a package of awards granted to sub crew members for successful patrols. It is my understanding that sub commanders were granted awards of the NC and SS based on the success of a patrol, to include tonnage and actual number of enemy ships sunk. Perhaps if the skipper got a NC for one or more of these patrols word also came down to make sure some "deserving" crew members were granted lower awards so the EM didn't feel left out. Knowing when the paperwork was submitted would provide a major clue as to what(which) patrols the award covered.

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No other documents I have give any indication of the award. The All Hands is dated September 1946, He was not "officially" declared KIA until a year after the suspected lost date so that would be 15 July 1946. Unlike some of the other awards listed in the magazine does not include "posthumously" in his write-up. The subs Navy Unit Citation included its 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th so possibly could been submitted following the award. I don't have anything about the award in all my documents so might never know for sure.

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The only other Silver Star award winners I found online were 3 of the officers onboard. If the uniform was for an enlisted sailor I couldn't locate it.

Sorry, I should've mentioned it was an Officers (Lt John D Salisbury). I have a copy of Salisburys citation and it is equally bare, but someone wrote the date 25 April 1945 on it, if that helps at all.

 

Anyways I hope you find more on this CQM! Once agin, outstanding group!

-Ben

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