Rudolph Johnson was born to Samuel Odie Johnson and Verna B. Bishop Johnson November 4, 1924 and was was the first born of six siblings.
Rudy, as he was lovingly called by friends and family, attended Howard County Training School in Tollette, Arkansas and worked at WPA (proving ground) in Hope, Arkansas. Johnson then moved to Malvern, Arkansas with relatives seeking employment.
During his time in Malvern, Rudy received his notice to join the United States Army and fight in World War II. Rudy was drafted into the Army on April 16, 1943 and was assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 365th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division. The 92nd Infantry Division was the only African American combat infantry division in Europe and fought from November 1944 until April 1945 at the Gothic Line in northern Italy. With the exception of one, all of these regiments were composed of African American enlisted personnel.
The heaviest fighting Rudy’s regiment saw took place in early February 1945, during Operation Fourth Term, when the 365th Infantry Regiment fought over several days to secure positions along the Lama di Sotto ridge against strong German counterattacks. Private Johnson’s unit initially reported him Missing in Action (MIA) on February 6, 1945. With no additional information regarding his whereabouts, the U.S. Army changed his status from MIA to Killed in Action (KIA) on February 21, 1945.
Private Rudolph Johnson gave his life for his country at the tender age of only 19. After many years of separation, Private Johnson made his long-awaited return home to the United States on March 20, 2018.
At the time of his death, Rudy was survived by his father, Samuel Odie Johnson; his mother, Verna B. Johnson; two brothers, Leroy and Jessie Johnson; three sisters, Mossie B., Odessa Marie and Betty Jean Johnson. Surviving to honor his long-awaited return to the U.S.A. are two brothers, Leroy Johnson (the late Geneve) of Nashville, Arkansas and Jessie Johnson (the late Learlean) of Omaha, Nebraska; three sisters, Mossie Shepard (the late Lawrence) of Nashville, Arkansas, Odessa Marie Jordan (the late Lee Augustus) of Denver, CO and Betty Jean Coulter (Cleophus) of Mineral Springs, Arkansas.
Funeral service for Rudolph Johnson was held Thursday, March 22, 2018 at Hicks Memorial Chapel for Funerals and Rudy was buried Friday, March 23 at the Arkansas State Veteran’s Cemetery in North Little Rock.