Erwin M. “Lefty” Johnson

Erwin M. “Lefty” Johnson

Birth
Hawley, Clay County, Minnesota, USA
Death 23 Jun 2015 (aged 95)
Detroit Lakes, Becker County, Minnesota, USA
Burial Hawley, Clay County, Minnesota, USA
Memorial ID 148346592 · View Source
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Erwin (Lefty) Johnson passed away peacefully at Emmanuel Nursing Home, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, under the care of Hospice.

Lefty was born in Hawley, Minnesota on January 11, 1920, the son of Erwin P. and Nina. V. Johnson. He spent his childhood exploring Hawley with friends and siblings Burton and Laurene, playing summer baseball and was a member of Hawley High School's football and basketball team. He had a paper route as a young boy, and later in his high school years worked at Andrew Johnson Dept. Store, owned by his grandfather. After graduating from Hawley High School in 1937, Erwin studied civil engineering at the University of Minnesota.

Lefty enlisted in the US Army in November 1941 and attended Officer Candidate School where he received a commission as Second Lieutenant. After Pearl Harbor he was assigned to the newly formed 531st Engineer Shore Regiment; a unit tasked with developing amphibious landing capability that would later prove pivotal to the success of the Allies. 
After months of training in Scotland and Ireland, Erwin landed at Arzew, Algeria with the 531st on November 6, 1942, as part of Operation TORCH. As an
engineering platoon commander, he participated in amphibious defense operations, combat support roles, and logistics planning in an army "coming of age" during the North Africa Campaign of late 1942-early 1943. In July 1943 his company and regiment
provided engineering and combat support during the landing at Gila, Sicily,(Operation HUSKIE), and again in September 1943 during the invasion at Salerno, Italy….(Operation AVALANCHE) December of 1943 First Lieutenant Johnson was assigned to the Allied Service & Supply Headquarters in London, England where he assisted a large contingent of
logistics planners with preparations for the invasion of Normandy. (Operation OVERLORD) Later reassigned back to the 531st, Lefty and his men landed at Utah Beach on 6 June 1944 (D-Day) at H-Hour plus 15 minutes and commenced engineering and combat support duties for Utah and Omaha Beach infantry operations. He was attached to the British 9th Army during the fighting at Aachen, Germany in the fall of 1944, and was with the combined British-American 9th Army during the Battle of the Bulge in Dec.1944-January 1945. He took part in the Rhine River crossing in Holland in 1945. Lefty took part in seven major campaigns in the European Theatre of Operations, and in four invasions landed within the first 15 minutes of the attack. 

In Hawley, Lefty was actively involved for many years with the Hawley Rodeo and the Hawley Golf Club; actively participating in construction of the east nine holes of the course. He especially enjoyed being an active participant in community projects where he could build something! Lefty was an avid outdoorsman; trapshooting, hunting and fishing. His happiest times were autumns spent hunting in Montana and Wyoming - forming friendships that have lasted over forty years. 

Graveside ceremony with military honors at Hawley Cemetery; Friday, July 24 at 1:30 PM.

Adapted from Wright Funeral Chapel obituary


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  • Created by: Always & Forever
  • Added: 26 Jun 2015
  • Find A Grave Memorial 148346592
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Erwin M. “Lefty” Johnson (11 Jan 1920–23 Jun 2015), Find A Grave Memorial no. 148346592, citing Hawley Cemetery, Hawley, Clay County, Minnesota, USA ; Maintained by Always & Forever (contributor 13884493) .