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Created on: 11/07/12 01:07 PM Views: 1319 Replies: 1
Johnnie David Hutchins
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2012 01:07 PM

Hutchins, Johnnie David

Seaman First Class Johnnie David Hutchins, USNR
USS LST 473
Posthumously Awarded the Medal of Honor
Lae, New Guinea, September 4, 1943

Picture contributed by Ernest Mae Seaholom

Mother Gets Medal Awarded Naval Hero Johnnie Hutchins

On last Thursday evening at Houston, Texas' first native (and a native of Weimar) son in the Navy to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor was honored in public ceremonies when the award was given posthumously to Seaman First Class Johnnie David Hutchins, USNR, son of a Lissie Texas, tenant farmer. His mother, Mrs. John Marion Hutchins, accepted the medal

Johnnie Hutchins was born near Weimar, moving some years ago with his family to the Lissie community. Before entering the Navy he was employed by Parker Bros., Inc., on the Houston Ship Channel.

Young Hutchins lost his life one year ago this month off Lae, New Guinea, when, although mortally wounded, he grabbed the helm of his tank landing ship and steered it from the courses of two approaching enemy torpedoes, saving the ship. its cargo and his shipmates.

Preceding the program at the Coliseum a parade headed by the Ellington Field military band marched down main street, escorted by a detachment from the U. 8, Marine Corps stationed at the Houston Marine recruiting station

On the honor platform were Hutchins' mother and father, Mr. and Mrs. John M. Hutchins, his five sisters Fay Etta 16; Elizabeth 12; Elsie 9; and twins, Marion and Myrtle 2, and a brother, Howard 5.

A destroyer escort vessel was named for young Hutchins and launched May 1 at Orange, Texas.

Weimar Mercury, September 29, 1944, page 1
 
RE: Johnnie David Hutchins
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2012 03:41 PM

We received this article this morning from Dr. Sandra Thomas and am posting it with her permission:

Ship Named for Eagle Lake Hero: Celebrating Veterans Day

Eagle Lake Headlight

November 6, 2012

Sandra C. Thomas

 

 

 

In 2001, the sky was cloudless, reflecting clear, blue waters between the Pacific Ocean and the Coral Sea just north of Australia. The Eastern half of the island among the Solomon Islands, called Papua New Guinea, seemed calm with its green Central Mountain Range and the crystal ocean surrounding it. As the plane descended, we flew over Lae, an inlet town on the northeast side of the island.

I recalled the name ‘Lae’ as the last point from which Amelia Earhart flew, never to return. I also recalled the history of an Eagle Lake naval hero who saved his crew in the waters near Lae during WW II. His ship was under attack while approaching the beaches at Lae to prepare for a land assault against the Japanese. I looked carefully below the plane at the inlet, the sandy beaches, and rising green hills, as we passed above them. I was seeing beneath us the battleground of Eagle Lake and Lissie’s Johnnie David Hutchins, Seaman First Class (1922-1943).

Johnnie, the son of a Lissie farmer, attended Eagle Lake High School. Like many young area men in 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He signed on with the Naval Reserve in Houston on November 17.  From there he went through landing craft training, and in April 1943, he was assigned to the naval ship LST 473. His ship had been commissioned in March, and assigned to Pacific Theater of War, as part of General Douglas MacArthur’s Amphibious Force.

During the afternoon of September 4, 1943, Johnnie’s ship and nine additional warships were attacked unexpectedly by 12 Japanese torpedo planes and 15 dive bombers. His ship was severely damaged, as it approached the beach for the land assault. An oncoming Japanese torpedo was spotted towards the ship.

Although badly wounded, Hutchins quickly took over the ship’s wheel and maneuvered it out of the line of the advancing torpedo, saving his remaining crew before he succumbed. For his heroic and extraordinary efforts to save his ship and crew, Hutchins, USNR, was awarded posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor. 

Among the honors which Hutchins received posthumously was a ship named for him. The USS Johnnie Hutchins (DE-360), which was built in Orange, Texas, was commissioned on August 28, 1944. The ship saw action as a destroyer escort, with commendations. From 1944 to 1972 it served widely from the Caribbean throughout the Pacific.

Another remembered Eagle Lake military hero was Major General Harry Hubbard Johnson, once Military Governor of Rome, who received the Japanese surrender of 41,000 troops from Japanese Lt. General Ishii in Morotai, Dutch New Guinea in August, 1945. He took his 93rd Infantry to the Pacific during the New Guinea-Phillippines Campaign.

 

Eagle Lake has countless heroes who have served our country through the years and wars. All the dedicated men and women who have served to protect our freedom and safety are among our heroes. Many from Eagle Lake have given the ultimate sacrifice. It is only fitting that we honor, appreciate, and thank all who have served our country on this Veterans Day, November 11, 2012.

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or cessation of war was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, called then “The Great War.” It was commemorated as “Armistice Day” the following year, and was celebrated by parades, speeches, and patriotism. In 1938, Armistice Day became a national-federal holiday.

After millions of additional veterans emerged after World War II and the Korean War, President Eisenhower changed the name from Armistice Day to Veteran’s Day.  It has been observed on November 11, the first anniversary of the end of World War I, since 1978.

These honorable veterans, men and women who served, have come from all walks of life to serve their country.  While Memorial Day is observed on the fourth Monday in May to honor Americans who lost their lives in service, Veterans Day honors all American veterans, living or dead. It focuses special recognition upon those still living, who have served the country honorably during war or peace times.

It was September 4, 1943 when Eagle Lake’s Johnnie Hutchins steered his ship and crew to safety in Papua New Guinea. On September 11, 2001, fifty-eight years later, only days after flying over Hutchins’ battleship area at Lae, I heard the first broadcast in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea that the New York Twin Towers had been attacked and destroyed by terrorists.

At that moment our world changed. Thousands of miles away in the Pacific for research in New Guinea, I was comforted to remember the leadership and bravery of Johnnie Hutchins, Maj. General H.H. Hubbard, and the countless men and women in uniform dedicated to the protection of our country and our freedom.

On this holiday let’s remember our veterans, support their programs, and raise a flag. Let’s review the dusty Pledge of Allegiance, recall the constitution, and remember that our freedoms are not free. Thank you veterans.