Two WWI soldiers to receive Medal of Honor posthumously

Portraits of Sgt. William Shemin in uniform overcoat, left and Sgt. Henry Johnson of the 369th Infantry Regiment, right. (Source: Courtesy Shemin family | US Army)

President Obama is set to posthumously award the Congressional Medal of Honor to two World War I soldiers Tuesday, nearly 100 years after they risked their lives to save their comrades on the battlefields of France.

The soldiers, one Jewish and one African-American, were not recognized during their lifetimes with the nation’s highest military honor because of discrimination. Tuesday’s ceremony at the White House is part of an ongoing effort to recognize previously overlooked, deserving recipients,.

Sgt. William Shemin and Pvt. Henry Johnson, both from the Army are set to be honored for the “conspicuous gallantry” they demonstrated during the conflict.

Shemin is credited with braving enemy fire to pull wounded soldiers to safety during a battle in August 1918. He was wounded in the process.

Johnson fought back against German forces despite sustaining a wound. He prevented a fellow soldier from becoming a prisoner of war in the process.

Shemin died in 1973, so his daughter, Elsie Shemin-Roth, who is now in her mid-80s, will accept the medal for her father.

Johnson, of New York, was not survived by any family members. Command Sergeant Major Louis Wilson, the top enlisted soldier of the New York Army National Guard, will accept the Medal of Honor on Johnson’s behalf.

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