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Cramer Presents Lost Medals to Family of World War II Pilot

Dec 28, 2016
Press Release

FARGO, N.D. – Congressman Kevin Cramer presented the family of the late Sgt. Robert Johnston six World War II military medals in a ceremony today at the Fargo Air Museum.  The medals were earned during Johnston’s service in the Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945. 

Records of the medals were lost and never awarded to Johnston, who died in 1996.  His grandson, Levi Otis of Fargo, contacted Cramer’s office for assistance in locating the lost records.

In today’s ceremony, Cramer presented Johnston’s widow, Lila Johnston, with her husband’s medals, the Air Medal and Oak Leaf Cluster, the POW Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Bronze Star Attachment, the World War II Victory Medal and the Honorable Service Lapel Button from World War II.  He also presented her with an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol Building. 

“It is my great honor to present these medals to you,” Cramer told Mrs. Johnston.  “As the service person serves, so does the spouse and the family.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity today to honor the memory of your husband and recognize this outstanding member of our Greatest Generation.”

Johnston served in the Army Air Corps during World War II as an airplane mechanic gunner.  He took part in the massive Allied air offenses over German-controlled Europe, which included the Naples-Foggia Campaign that was vital in driving Italy from the war, and the Rome-Arno Campaign which not only liberated the city of Rome, but saved the lives of countless Italian citizens. 

His airplane was shot down flying over enemy territory on Jan. 30, 1944.  Johnston was forced to parachute out of the plane, injuring his shoulder, where he was captured by German soldiers.  He was sent to a prisoner of war camp in East Prussia and then to Germany.  A POW for 16 months, Johnston stole a German officer’s car and escaped to Allied territory. 

After World War II, Johnston returned to his home area of Henning, Minn., and later served in the Korean War. He was a self-employed heavy equipment operator, farmer and trucker.