Obituary: Leonard Johnson of Belmont, Landed in Utah Beach, Normandy on D-Day

Len served in five major European battles during WWII. After being wounded during the invasion of Normandy, he refused the Purple Heart so that his parents wouldn't learn of his injuries.

Leonard Johnson, Served WWII from 1942-45. Good prep for his war experience.  Photo: Eric Dentler
Leonard Johnson, Served WWII from 1942-45. Good prep for his war experience. Photo: Eric Dentler
Leonard W. Johnson

A WWII Normandy survivor died on December 2, 2013 at the age of 92 yrs.

He was born at home December 6, 1920, in Ely, Minnesota, in Section 30. Born to Verne and Hilda Johnson - he was #3 of 5 boys. Graduated from HS 1941, attended Junior College, then realizing he would be drafted, Len enlisted in the US Army in 1942. After basic training, Len was deployed to London where he spent one year preparing for D-Day.

He landed at Normandy on Utah Beach where he was wounded, treated by a field medic; he said no Purple Heart in as much as his Father was not well and Len did not want to worry him.

As a Staff Sgt, Forward Observer in the 13th Field Artillery Operation Battalion, Len went on to serve through 5 European major battles including the Battle of the Bulge. Discharged, beyond the end of the war, he was assigned to returning imprisoned German Officers to their families.

Len arrived in the United States, headed directly to Chicago where his future bride was waiting to welcome him home. Len & Katherine were married and he continued his education at the University of Minnesota where he received his degree in Mining Engineering. Len worked at US Steel, Johnson & Moore, during which time Len & Kay built their first house, in Hibbing.

Sometime along the way, Len realized he could play golf 365 days in California, that there was a Curling Club. So, in 1969 they moved. Len began his career with Davy McKee Engineering during which time he traveled to 46 countries. In 1971 they moved to Belmont where Len retired in 1983. Kay died of cancer in 1986. Len was a member of the American Legion and the VFW. A devoted member of St Andrews Lutheran Church in San Mateo, California, since 1971- he never stopped giving thanks to the Lord for bringing him safely through WWII.

Len was a part of the Greatest Generation. Len was a great soldier and gentleman. We will miss Len tremendously. He is survived by his brother, Roy (Flora) from Atlanta, GA; his sister-in-law, Betty Johnson from Ely, MN; cousin Al Johnson from Phoenix, AZ; friends, Maggie Timeus and Dora Knierim; caregiver, Leo Marinas and many nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Service will be held at St. Andrews Lutheran Church on December 10, 2013 at 2pm with a reception to follow. Interment at a later date in Minnesota at Ely Cemetery. Sneider & Sullivan & O'Connell's Funeral Home (650) 343-1804.
Joan S. Dentler (Editor) December 06, 2013 at 07:52 PM
I was a friend and neighbor of Leonard's, and had the pleasure of interviewing him in 2008 about his experiences during WWII. He was a proud veteran and a lovely man. In a Christmas greeting to me last year, he said that as of Dec. 2012, he was the last remaining member of his battalion of 754 men. Truly a man of 'the greatest generation.' We'll miss you Leonard.


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