Vietnam Era Veterans Remembrance Day

Vietnam Era Veterans Remembrance Day

Join us here at the Veterans Memorial Museum on September 9, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. as we recognize and remember all who served during the Vietnam conflict. This years event will be very special as our guest speaker will be; Ray “Doc” Padre Johnson, one the highest decorated Navy Chaplain in American history.

Photo: “Doc” Johnson shaking hands with Vice President Hubert Humphrey as he is being informed of his Navy Cross. Seated at the table is Gemeral Westmorland, Admiral Veigh and US ambassador to Vietnam Bunker.
  • Here’s what our Director Chip Duncan had to say about out speaker; “This fall I was deeply honored to actually meet Ray Johnson in person when Warren Withers, one of our members, brought him to the museum to see one of his art works on display. Little did I know I was standing in the presence of one of the most unique Vietnam Veterans I have met. People have referred to Ray as the “modern renaissance man. After getting to know him a little bit, I would have to agree.”

    During his service in Vietnam, Ray served as a Navy Chaplain and also cross trained as a Medic. As a result, the men around him called him either Padre” or “Doc”, depending on the needs. In 1967 Ray volunteered for service with the Special Forces “Black Beret River Raiders” River Assault Force One operating in the Mekong Delta.

  • On the 19th of June, 1967 Padre Johnson was part of “Operation Concordia” in the Long An Province with the Riverine Force. During the operation, the Navy boats and elements of the 2nd Brigade of the 9th Infantry Division came under withering fire by a massive Viet Cong force. American infantrymen were cut down by the intense fire. Johnson was on Boat Tango 92-7 and coaxed two other men to go with him to assist the wounded. They ran out and helped bring the wounded to the boat that became the medical aide station. While retrieving men on the first attempt, Johnson was hit in the leg. When they got back to the boat the other two were terrified at their chances of surviving another attempt. Johnson looked at their faces and said “it’s alright, you stay here” and ran back into the fight for more wounded. On Doc’s second attempt an enemy round found him in the chest and brought him down, but only for a moment.

  • “A bible is a man’s first defense spiritually, but in certain times it can also protect you physically.” The enemy bullet had struck doc’s bible that he had in his chest pocket. (In Christian irony, the bullet stopped at the Book of James) Doc got up and limping on his wounded leg, with pain in his chest, continued treating the wounded and dragging them back to the boat. Undaunted, Doc continued again and again returning to the fight treating and retrieving the wounded. In witnessing the battle the Commanding Officer of River Division 111 could not understand how Doc managed to survive the hailstorm of bullets, grenades and mortars. At the end of the operation, 63 Americans were killed and 168 wounded. Many of those wounded are because of Doc Johnson’s resolve to go into the field for his fellow men. For his heroism, Ray “Doc” Padre Johnson was eventually awarded the Navy Cross. General Fulton, of the 2nd Brigade, recommended him for the Medal of Honor, but the Navy declined it.

  • After Director Chip Duncan’s meeting with Ray “Doc” Padre Johnson, Warren brought a copy of the photograph (shown in this article) of Ray shaking hands with the Vice President. On the back, Ray had written a small biography of the event and ended it with “all that really matters is the many times I heard “thanks Doc”. That response is worth ten of the highest honors.

    After leaving Vietnam with the Navy Cross, Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and Two Purple Hearts, Ray left the Navy and returned to the states to work as a minister in the Lutheran church. He has created prevention programs for crime and drugs, worked as a ranch hand in Wyoming and become a world renowned artist.

  • Ray’s art depicts the face of human suffering and survival. In addition to Ray’s art, he has written extensively of his “Journey With the Global Family”.

    “My written and visual art journey also reveals my personal observations, concerns, and positive insights concerning the freedom of the human spirit, the physical care of people, and the high priority I give to balanced environmental concerns and World Peace as a state of being.”

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from not only one of our own Vietnam Veterans, but the stories of this extraordinary man’s global journey.

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