Heroes: the Marine Corps

"...In checking the objects, I was surprised to find they were all in new looking condition, and I began to sort through them. I found a raincoat, a velvet purse with bills and coins still inside, cigarettes, two small flags, one a meatball and one a rising sun, various writing tools, including what seemed like a personal stamp, and a photograph album with many pictures of what seemed like young men all about the same age in uniform..."



image of american flag

 Keith W. Johnson

image of Keith Johnson

  • Branch of Service: USMC
  • Unit: 1st Radio Intelligence Platoon
  • Dates: 1942 - 1945
  • Location: Pacific Theater, Guam,
    Iwo Jima
  • Rank: PFC
  • SN: 480706
  • Birth Year: 1922
  • Entered Service: Rockford, IL


Keith W. Johnson, 1943, taken shortly after basic training




A little background information on Mr. Keith W. Johnson -- the subject of this essay. Mr. Johnson was a member of the 1st Radio Intelligence Platoon of the United States Marine Corps. [see photograph below]

Image of 1st radio platoon

Click on Image for larger view

Men of 1st Radio Intelligence Platoon -- 1943
Front Row -- Left to Right:
H. B. Ferguson; J. K. Owen; C. E. Carmack; R. H. Tracy; J. O. Barker; S. N. Walker; D. E. Lauritzen; M. J. Couts; J. A. Hedin; H. F. Wertz; J. Hercik; J. A. Gaulding; K. W. Johnson; G. G. Ross; D. H. Behl; E. H. Strohecker.
Second Row -- Left to Right:
J. H. Coward Jr.; R. L. Wallace; O. F. Schwanke Jr; V. F. Kmak; N. A. Griffin; C. W. Arnold; J. E. Pace; E. R. Freitag; F. N. Rogers; J. E. Johnson; R.C.W. Crow; D. A. Thomas; T. E. Osborne; Dew. Archer; W. L. Rash.
Back Row -- Left to Right:
G. R. Brittain; L. E. Deming; J. B. Johannes; W. W. Lehto; R. J. Du Plessis; R. E. Brown; G. Pottmeyer; J. D. Adams; R. E. Goodrich; J. K. Schofield; R. D. Colwell; R. Laf. Kohring; E. J. Martin; F. W. Goodale Sr.; D. D. Baumer; W. D. Coleman; W. J. Stephens.

1st Radio Intelligence Platoon

The mission of the 1st Radio Intelligence Platoon was to intercept and locate Japanese Radio traffic for decoding, and to locate transmitters by directional finders during an invasion, to interrupt their communications. At the time, the men of the 1st Radio Intelligence Platoon were forbidden to discuss their mission in any way.


the Returned Album

I participated in the assault and capture of Guam, Marianas Islands, 21 July 1944 to 10 August 1944, debarking via a cargo net to a landing craft on D+3. The initial landing on D-day was vigorously opposed and death and destruction was everywhere, both friend and foe. It was a gruesome sight and I remember thinking that those mens families would be saddened for life to learn of there loved ones death.

The fighting had progressed far beyond us, although we could hear the sounds of rifle and machine gun firing in the distance around the clock. We dug foxholes and used our poncho's for a roof to shed the rain and wondered what we were to do. It happened that the LST with all our intercept equipment was sunk on the way to Guam, so our mission had to be changed to searching for Japanese radio equipment in caves and huts. The areas we could search were limited to a respectable distance from the fighting front, so it did not keep us busy all the time. I left one day, when I had no assignment, to check out areas closer to the action near the airfield and off to the hills beyond.

There were teams of flame throwers shooting the cave entrances and airplane revetments by the airfield, and I thought better of being there and headed back.

On the way back, I came upon what seemed like a depression in the ground and there were many objects still lying in a neat pile as if the person was coming back soon. In checking the objects, I was surprised to find they were all in new looking condition, and I began to sort through them. I found a raincoat, a velvet purse with bills and coins still inside, cigarettes, two small flags, one a meatball and one a rising sun, various writing tools, including what seemed like a personal stamp, and a photograph album with many pictures of what seemed like young men all about the same age in uniform. There was Japanese calligraphy on the inside pages, and I wondered what the characters meant.

The fighting raged on in the distance and we began to feel safer, as field kitchens were set up and we had some hot food and coffee. One big problem was in eating that food. There were so many flies that had hatched from the dead bodies, they were crawling all over our food and mess kits. It didn't take long before a lot of us got sick from Dengue fever, which left us weak and sick and debilitated. Many of us lost 20 to 30 pounds in just two weeks.

In the meantime, as it appeared we were getting toward the end of the operation, plans were progressing for our departure. Anyone with souvenirs had to have them stamped as being cleared by the censor, which I did.

Then it was back to a base to get ready for Iwo Jima.
[See: the Rest of the Story -- below]

I managed to survive Iwo, partly because I was aboard the USS Eldorado, the Invasion Flagship. All the Navy and Marine Corps Commanders were aboard directing the battle operations. We were in a radio room full of all kinds of radios including Japanese intercept operators. The Traumatic Moment for me was going ashore D+10 to try to meet my brother Cpl. Donald L. Johnson and find that he had been killed on Feb. 24, the fifth day of the invasion. That spoiled the war for me.

Jumping ahead to 1990 and now living in Spooner, Wisconsin, for twenty years, I had kept these souvenirs put away most of the time, so they did not get much wear.

My wife does painting as a hobby, and took a course in high school and brushes up on it once in a while. There was a family in Spooner that we became acquainted with, who home schooled there children. But they needed a credit in art to complete their education, so my wife Cynthia was asked if she would tutor the girls. One of her students, Priscilla Stillwell, had a penpal in Japan, Rie Nagashima, and to be different, I guess, wanted to paint some Japanese word characters on a pair of tennis shoes. Cynthia remembered this album and the characters inside on the fly leaf, and showed it to Priscilla as a sample of Japanese writing.

It was during this time that I began thinking, if I could find any of the survivors of the man who owned the album, I would return it. So we copied the inside writing and sent the copies to Rie Nagashima.

Rie's father started checking records and found the characters revealed a school name which in turn could identify the man and he was still living. Rie sent his name and address so I could write and verify that he was the true owner. After reading his reply, I had no reason to doubt that he was the rightful owner, so I sent him the album. His reply was reward enough to satisfy me, but he expressed his gratitude by sending me an elegant Japanese doll mounted on a pedestal. She is an example of the fine artistry of the old Japanese culture, and I treasure it greatly.

He also expressed his thanks via this letter:



13 December 1990


Mr. Keith W. Johnson

I received your package on December 4th. I am so sorry for not writing to you sooner.

Please forgive me. Thank you very much for sending me my old album, with your kind letter. I was very happy to find it was my own album. You have been keeping it very carefully for forty-seven long years. I don't know how to express my gratitude.

When I found each photo of my friends who died in battle in Guam, I was reminded of those days' events, and I could only shed tears of miserable memories of the past. I cried out from the bottom of my heart, "NO MORE WARS" By the way, the news that you sent me the mementos was known immediately to each newspaper publishing company and radio station. So the people -- comrades in arms and the families of the deceased---called me day after day. They made inquiries about the state of the war in Guam, and their sons or brothers.

Please have someone translate the enclosed newspaper clippings which were published on December 5th and 7th.

You say in your letter your brother was killed in battle on Iwo Jima. Everybody realize how barbarous the war is. I am sending you a small token of my regard as a return present. I hope you like it. It is a Japanese doll. Well, I had better close this letter.

Please take good care of yourself.


Yours truly,

Izumi Sato



There is much more to his story of surviving for a year and two months with little to eat and always fearful of capture. In the end, he was so weak he had to be lifted into a truck. Unlike many of the strictly Japanese military men, He had an instinct for survival. What a long year that was!


------ Keith W. Johnson



Mementos bring old enemies together

By Gene Prigge


SPOONER -- An end to the shooting doesn't mean the war is over. Keith Johnson, of Spooner, is 69 years old and has a modem war story to tell, a story of great tragedy, a story of small miracles. Its a story that began 47 years ago, but may not yet be over.

At the age of 20 Johnson joined the Marines. That was October, 1942, and WWII was in full fury. After a little island hopping in the South Pacific Johnson found himself in Guam. It was August of 1944.

Johnson is a soft-spoken man and wants it understood he wasn't in the landing forces -- he didn't hit the beaches with the invasion troops that suffered some of the worst carnage of the war. He was in a radio intelligence unit, gathering enemy communications information after the U.S. had broken the Japanese code. When the war was over he mustered out, and settled in Rockford, Ill. He had his memories, and a few souvenirs. He found those in a Guam foxhole as he was walking along a secured front line toward an airport. "It was probably where some fellow had slept," he said.

Johnson has lived in Spooner for 20 years. His wife, Cynthia, teaches art to a few home-schooled students. "A year ago, before Christmas, one of them wanted to paint some Japanese word characters on a pair of tennis shoes. Cynthia remembered a photo album, a souvenir from that Guam foxhole, and brought it out to look at Japanese characters. It was a full-sized, cloth-covered scrapbook with about 70 black and white pictures in it, apparently from a Japanese school.

One of her students Priscilla Stilwell, had a Japanese pen pal, Rie Nagashima. "I got the idea maybe I should return this album, return it to the survivors.

Photographs are prized possessions and it didn't mean that much to me," Some writing on the fly leaf of the album was duplicated, and sent to Stilwell's pen pal.

Johnson found a number of items along with the album.

image of Keith Johnson
Image of Keith W. Johnson Taken in 1990

They included cigarettes,a small,personal Japanese flag,and a larger rising sun Japanese flag,a compass,a military insignia,and other items.

Nagashima's father started checking records. He found that the man still existed, then met the man who had owned the items. He was 67 years old, and live in Hiroshima. During the war he had been a naval meteorologist. His name was Isumi Sato.

Johnson sent the album to Sato. Sato wrote back in somewhat broken translated English, saying "I could not believe my ears when I got the mementos of my school days forty-seven years ago. The name written them is unquestionably my handwriting."

"He had only been on the island for a month when the Marines arrived," said Johnson. "They were trying to evacuate, and he was supposed to have left on a submarine. His account was the tide of battle turned suddenly, and they were surrounded with tanks. All they could do was try to escape and leave everything behind.

"He went into the jungle and managed to escape capture for one year and two months. There were 20 of his comrades with him and he was the only one who survived," said Johnson.

Sato wrote "When I found each photo of my friends who died in battle on Guam, I was reminded of those day's events, and I can only shed tears of miserable memories of the past. I cried out from the bottom of my heart 'No More Wars.'" In a written account, Sato tells his story. He graduated from a business school in December, 1943 and volunteered for the Japanese NavalWeather Observation Corp. In May, 1945 he was sent to Saipan, then to Guam. Japan had already begun losing the war. On Guam Sato laid down for a nap when shelling began. Twenty-four of his comrades were killed instantly. They made it to a central command cave only to find it surrounded by U.S. tanks. All the Japanese soldiers inside had committed suicide. The group went into hiding.

Wandering around the island they became sick when they drank rain water from leaves. Their number dwindled to seven. There was nothing to eat and they began eating salamanders. More died when they ate poisonous frogs. They stole clothes from the dead. When they were captured all but Sato was killed, and he didn't have the strength to climb into his captor's truck.

Johnson and Sato are writing now. Johnson joined the military with his brother, who was killed at Iwo Jima, and he says something Sato wrote moved him greatly. Sato wrote: "Some of my classmates were killed by the enemy in front of my eyes, and more than 20 were killed by a cannon at one time. I hated the U.S. so much then but after I learned that Mr. Johnson had the same feelings as mine I realized that we are all nice people who were killing each other because of the tragedy of war."

"I never expected anything like this after all these years," said Johnson. "I have the idea it would be nice to meet him. My thought was maybe we could meet in Hawaii," he said.

----- Keith W. Johnson

Letter of June 14, 1990 from Mr. Keith W. Johnson to Mr. Isumi Sato:

June 14, 1990
Sponner, Wis.


Mr. Izumi Sato;

I have been referred to you as the person who could be the owner of an album I found at the time of World War II. this would be about June 1944. As I do not read Japanese, I did not know who the owner was. I assumed he would have died during WWII.

A young girl I know has a pen pal in Japan, and I asked her to write to this pen pal and find out if some relatives are still living. She has just written back that she knows who the owner is and he is still alive! Her name and address is:

Rie Nagashima
720-4 Shimakoizumi

I had the first two inside pages copied. Which is on the opposite side of this page. She says your name is different now. I alos found other things but some things were taken away from me. Could you remember what you left behind and where you left it? Also what happened to you to cause you to leave everything?

I am hoping you will have some one to translate this if you do not read English.

I will be waiting to hear from you.

Keith W. Johnson
Spooner, WI


Letter from Mr. Isumi Sato to Mr. Keith W. Johnson:

"We ate poisonous frogs. We also ate salamanders living in our cave. The very same Guam Island that honeymooners go to now is a jungle where we spent a year fighting the enemy."

In December, 1943 upon graduating from Shonan Business School, Mr. Sato Izumi volunteered for the Naval Weather Observation Corps. In May, 1945 he was sent south to Saipan and from there to Guam, arriving there on 1 June that same year.

Japan was already beginning to lose the war. On 18 August, the U.S. marines landed and took over the northern part of the island. The marines began cutting down the papaya fields making it impossible for Sato and others to hide there. They fled into the jungle.

One day, after having a meal of stale bread, Sato and the other soldiers had just lay down for a nap when they were shelled by the U.S. Twenty-four of Sato's comrades were killed instantly. Sato and three others were urged to escape the shelling by their commander, but on the way to safety a shell landed killing another of his friends. Sato remembers that they were so scared that it took them thirty minutes before they could answer the calls of uninjured Japanese soldiers trying to find them.

Rejoining with his mates, they made their way to the central command cave, only to find it surrounded by U.S. tanks. All the Japanese soldiers inside the cave had committed suicide. Sato and the others had no sooner decided to return to hiding when a squall hit the island. It became hard to distinguish the sound of rain from the sound of feet.

Wandering around the island, they became sick when they tried to wet their parched throats with rain water that had gathered on the leaves. They had nowhere to go as their numbers dwindled to seven.

There was also notheing to eat. They began eating salamanders. Some of Sato's friends died when they ate the poisonous frogs. The smell of death permeated the air where they walked. Their clothes were so badly torn and ragged that they had nothing else to do but steal from the dead.

One day, the sound of gunfire suddenly woke Sato up from a nap. It seemed as if there were rifles everywhere, even under his nose. All of his comrades were killed. Sato somehow survived.

Sato lived like this for a year, being chased by the marines until he finally surrendered. At that time, he was so weak from malnourishment that he didn't have enough strength to climb into his captor's truck.

"War is so brutal," says Sato. "Someday I would like to go back to Guam and meet the souls of my friends who died there."

--- translated from the "Chugoku Shinbun" -- "Watashi no senso taiken" (My War Experience).


The following images are copies of Japanese newspaper articles [December 5th and 7th] about the return of the photo album by Mr. Keith Johnson to Mr. Izumi Sato. At this time, we do not have a literal translation of the contents of these pages.

image of Johnson document
5 December 1990, Sect E-1

image of Johson document
December 1990, Sect B-5

5 December 1990, E-1, B-5


Headline: Graduation Album Discarded on Guam During Battle,
Returned After 46 Years.

Middle Title: Two Penpals -- Japanese and American Girls --
Act as Go-Betweens

Picture Caption: Deeply impressed, Mr. Sato, at his home in Numasumicho, Hiroshima, holds the graduation album which was returned to him after 46 years.

A high school graduation album which was discarded in the jungle towards the end of the Pacific War, on July 19, 1944, on the island of Guam, was picked up by an American and mailed to him on December 4, 1990. Mr. Sato, a Japanese Navy volunteer at the time, is now 64 years old and owns a food store, was the owner of the album. A Japanese high school girl in Gunma prefecture corresponded with an American pen -- pal and acted as the go -- between. Mr. Sato is deeply moved and says, "It's like a dream come true." Having the album enables him to fill in the gap of the 46 years and to properly mourn the deaths of his comrades on Guam.

Mr. Sato graduated early in December of 1943 from Hiroshima Numanon Business School (which) is now Numanon High School) and then volunteered to the Japanese Weather Observation Corps along with three other classmates. He was transferred in May, 1949, along with his three classmates, to the last Japanese Naval Carrier to Guam. The war situation had already worsened when American soldiers came on the island and forced Sato and 50 of his comrades to the Northern part of the island. At this time, two of his three classmates were killed. The album was his only source of spiritual support while he was in the jungle, but he had to discard it, along with his "good luck charm" to lighten his load to move to the Northern shore of Guam where a Japanese submarine waited to pick them up.

In September of 1989, 15 year old Rie Nagashima, who is a senior at Ohizumikita High School, [then it gives her address in Gunma], received a letter from a pen pal in Wisconsin of the United States, saying that her teacher's husband has a Japanese soldier's letters and album, and to please look for the owner. Miss Nagashima consulted her 39 year old father who owns a sushi shop. They identified Mr. Sato by consulting the provincial office, based on the information found in the album -- the graduation year and the school name on the copy of the album. The American who had it, is Keith W. Johnson, 68 years old, who lives in Spooner, Wisconsin. According to the letter, Mr. Johnson had picked up the album in the jungle and had wished to return it. The album is cloth covered and odd -- shaped, B5 size. Seventy black and white pictures were pasted in the book. Some of the pictures had faded, but the album was kept in good condition and must have been picked up soon after it was discarded. There are a lot of pictures that bring back memories of school days of that era: 64 classmates pictured in uniform, scenes of class in session, picking mandarin oranges as a class, battle training, and others. Mr. Sato was impressed, The condition of the pictures are very good, having been kept carefully, with a good heart." He almost cried when he saw the pictures of his two friends that had died. He says, "I appreciate Miss Nagashima." Miss Nagashima feels good that the correspondence was a success and wants to relate the story back to her pen -- pal.


image of Johnson document
7 December 1990, E-2


MAIN HEADLINE: Album that was left in War Zone by former Japanese soldier from Numasumicho returned by former American soldier after 46 years.

SUB TITLE: Picked up in jungle and kept -- letter enclosed says "no more wars".

An album from school years that a former Japanese soldier left on Guam island during the Pacific War, is finally returned by a former American soldier after 46 years to the owner of a food store, Mr. Izumi Sato, Numasumicho, Hiroshima. The album was kept in almost p perfect condition. Mr. Sato was appreciative of this act of good will and wants to get news to the survivors of his comrades who died and pay tribute to their graves with the album in the near future.

SMALL CAPTION BOTTOM RIGHT: Mr. Sato is looking at his memorable album for the first time after it was returned after 46 years.

Mr. Sato graduated early in December, 1943, from Hiroshima Numanon Business school and along with two other class mates, volunteered for the Navy and were sent to Guam. Inside of one month after their arrival on Guam, in June of 1944, the Americans landed and Sato and his comrades went into hiding in the jungle. They stayed there for a year and two months during which time his comrades were killed one after another. The album which he carried with him and kept as his source of spiritual support, had to be discarded in the jungle to lighten his load. Mr. Sato survived miraculously and was then captured by the Americans and then released. The album that was left in the the jungle was picked up by Mr. Keith W. Johnson of the American Navy, age 68, who lives in Spoot, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Mr. Johnson kept the album for 46 years hoping to return it to its owner. He asked a high school foreign exchange student from Osumicho Gunma prefecture, who was staying at his friend's house in Wisconsin, to search for the owner. After this search it was found from the school name and other information that the album was Mr. Sato's. The album was forwarded to Mr. Sato by mail. In an enclosed letter, Mr. Johnson said, "I picked up the album because I was sure it must have been valuable to its owner. My also died in the war on Iwo Jima. I do not want to see such a cruel war again. In response to Mr. Johnson's letter, Mr. Sato responded, "I watched more than twenty of my comrades die at once by enemy artillery. My class mate was shot in front of my eyes. At that time I hated America with all of my heart. Knowing that Mr. Johnson kept the album in such good condition, I realized that we had the same experience and that the war was so cruel because we were just kind people killing each other." The album containing about 60 photographs of classes and military training is reminiscent of the students' lives.


image of NEWUpdated on 22 July 2003
Keith Johnson and Izumi Sato, Pt. 2
We have just added additional details to the story of the Returned Photo Album to Mr. Izumi Sato. Click on the above link to read more of this facinating World War II story of two former enemies locating one another after 45 years! Above is Mr. Sato viewing Mr. Keith Johnson's story posted on this web site.



the Rest of the Story


The USS Eldorado, which I was on, was the flagship for the invasion, with the leaders responsible for conducting the assault, aboard. There was continuous watercraft coming and going between ship to shore as the need arose for the top brass to oversee the progress of the battle. On D-day + 10, I was granted permission to land to see if I could find my brother. I could not get oriented or find directions to the 26th Marine location. I did find the cemetery, which had already grown very large. I decided to walk through and started to find familiar names, and began to feel uncomfortable. I had met some of his buddies. And I soon found his name amongst the crosses. He had been killed Feb. 24, 1945. My first thoughts were concern for the loss my parents and his wife would feel. I made my way back to the ship, told my buddies and the next day, a good friend and fellow radioman, Russell C. W. Crom, went back with me to take the pictures.

image of Donald's gravesite

Image taken about 3 March 1945, of Keith Johnson at brother Donald Johnson burial site -- 5th Marine Division Cemetery, Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands. His remains were later returned to the States.


image of Donald Johnson
Image of Corporal Donald L. Johnson, #480704

image of Iwo Jima graveyard
Image of 5th Marine Division Cemetery on Iwo Jima

Note: A slightly different account of the same event as told by a fellow radioman, Russell C. W. Crom. Russell recalls the event in a bit of a different way. According to Keith, Russell's memory is better at times. Russell was with Keith at the time and his version goes something like this [webmaster comments].



"Keith and I were members of the First Radio Intelligence Platoon and were assigned to copy the Navy Fox broadcast one night shift, during the heat of battle, in late February 1945. We were aboard the Command ship, USS Eldorado. The Fox broadcasts were important but the Morse code copying job was about the most boring duty a radioman could have. It was 5 letter groups at 18 WPM. The rhythm of machine code was monotonous and we could not keep our minds off of what was happening on the island. One half of our platoon was on the island because we had drawn lots as to which half it would be. Keith and I were safely aboard ship.

Two men were assigned to copy the Fox broadcasts so that if one person missed a few characters, the decoders could check the others copy hoping to fill in any missing text. All of a sudden, Keith threw off his headset and announced, 'my brother has been killed' I kept copying code and admonished him to copy too. He soon complied but was deeply troubled.

Being in intelligence we knew which outfits were fighting ashore and we knew the going was rough, but we were never in contact with the fighting units as our main job in intelligence was to copy enemy transmissions and locate the stations.

But we were on 4 hours off and 4 hours on, duty during battle conditions and we rotated assignments from copying code, decoding, and message running.

image of Keith and Donald
Image of Keith and Donald Johnson taken on a visit in Honolulu, Hawii

Message running duty was when we got a real picture of what was going on. Keith had never been in contact with his brothers outfit all during the Iwo Operation.

The following week after Keith's premonition about his brother, we went ashore to take up duty on land. We were being oriented by our comrades about different things to do when we learned that our officers had been over ruled by higher authority, that we were not to swap duties as originally planned. Each half of the platoon was just beginning to know what we were doing and the higher authority was right. Thus Keith and I had a few hours with nothing to do except try and not be killed before we could get a boat back to the Eldorado.

Keith wanted to go to the cemetery for his brother's outfit. We headed out on our own across the airstrip and past our artillery, toward Suribachi and found the cemetery. Keith went to the roster that was posted near the entrance and, sure enough, there was his brother's name. We went to the grave and offered our prayers. I had a box camera that my mother had given me so I took Keith's photo. We still have a copy of the snapshot. As nearly as we could determine his brother was killed when he sensed it miles away aboard the Eldorado.

Russ" Unquote


It was difficult not being able to write home about his death. The censors would not allow it, and I didn't want to be the one to tell the bad news. So, I waited, writing about generalities, until I learned they had received the dreaded news.

I knew Cynthia before she was married to Don, and she and I had written occasional letters back and forth. I knew she loved Don very much, and it would be a loss that she would feel for a long time. I did feel a sympathy that was deeper than ordinary, and thought if I wrote to her on a regular basis, it would fill a small void in her life. As the days passed and the letters were exchanged, we began to reveal more of our feelings to each other. I began to think, I should try to fill a larger void in her life in the years ahead. I know the thought that I loved her began to take hold in my mind, before her thoughts of loving me did. As the weeks and months passed, we were writing every day to each other with no commitment for what we would do after I returned home.

The Atomic Bomb changed every ones life, as it did mine. Within two weeks I was on my way home, from Maui, Hawaii. There was a one month furlough, which Cynthia and I spent together, a month of duty at Philadelphia Navy Yards, mustering out Oct 29, 1945, and home to stay. I was able to persuade Cynthia to marry me on June 01, 1946, and together we have five wonderful children, our firstborn son, we named Larry Donald Johnson, as a living tribute to Don and have been together 56 plus years.

And this is the end of the story. I married my brothers wife, and still try not to think of what he missed, as I savor the life he could not have.


----- Keith W. Johnson


Itinerary of 1st Radio Intelligence Platoon



14 Jun 1943

Activated at Linda Vista camp, Camp Elliott, San Diego, CA as the 1st Radio Intelligence Platoon, Signal Company, Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet. (T/O D-529 dated 2 January 1943) Unit to which assigned redesignated during period of assignment as follows:



7 Jul 1943

Headquarters Company, 2nd. Corps Signal Battalion, FMF

28 Aug 1943

Headquarters Company, Signal Battalion, 5th. Amphibious Corps

7 Sep 1943

Reassigned to Marine Barracks, Camp Elliott, San Diego, CA

15 Oct 1943

Reassigned to the 29th Replacement Battalion, FMF, Camp Elliott, San Diego, CA.

28 Oct-14
Nov 1943

Embarked aboard USS Rochambeau (AP-63)and transited from San Diego, CA to Noumea, New Caledonia

20 Nov 1943

Reassigned to the Corps Replacement Battalion, Transient Center, I Marine Amphibious Corps at Camp St. Louis.


Embarked aboard USS KINCAID and transisted from Noumea,New Caledonia to Guadalcanal B.S.I. and reassigned to theSignal Company, Headquarters Battalion, Division Support Troops, 3rd. Marine Division, FMF

30 Dec 1943
2 Jun 1944

Participated in Consolidation of Solomon Islands.

15 Apr 1944

Reassigned to the Headquarters Company, I Corps Signal Battalion, I Amphibious Corps. Unit to which assigned redesignated as the Headquarters, III Corps Signal Battalion, III Amphibious Corps on Apr 1944

3 Jun-
31 Aug 1944

Embarked 3 Jun aboard USS Appalachain (AGC-1) at Guadalcanal, B.S.I. Transisted therefrom on 4 Jun to Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Is., arriving thereat at 8 Jun. Further transited 12 Jun to Mariannas AOA, but returned to Marshalls Is. on 3 Jul. On 16 Jul further transited to Guam, Marianna Is., arriving thereat on 20 Jul. Disembarked 24 Jul and participated in operations against Japanese forces in the seizure and occupation of Guam. Embarked aboard USS GEORGE CLYMER (APA-27) at Guam on 20 Aug and transisted therefrom to Pearl Harbor T.H., arriving and disembarking there at on 31 Aug.

15 Aug 1944

Reassigned by S/NR to Signal Company, H&S Battalion FMFPac, Oahu, T.H. Unit to which assigned redesignated during period of assignment as follows:

19 Oct 1944

Headquarters Company, Provisional Forcd Signal Battalion, FMFPac

1 Apr 1945

Headquarters Company, Force Signal Battalion, FMFPac

15 Sep-14 Dec

Attatched to Pacific Fleet Radio Unit 128, Wahiawa, Oahu,1944 T.H.

20 Oct 1944

Redesignated the 1st. Separate Radio Intelligence Platoon.(T/O E-538 dated 17 October1944)

15 Dec 1944
12 Apr 1945

Attatched to Headquarters, V amphibious Corps 15 Dec 1944.During period 27 Dec 1044-12 Jan 1945 detatchments of the platoon were formed and embarked as follows:

Det. "A"

Embarked aboard USS ESTES (AGC-12) on 27 Dec 1944

Det. "B"

Embarked aboard USS AUBURN (AGC-1O) on 12 Jan 1945

Det "C"

Embarked aboard USS LENAWEE (APA-195) on 12 Jan 1945

Keith W. Johnson's assignment

Det. "D"

Embarked aboard USS ELDORADO (AGC-11) on 12 Jan 1945.

At various times and routes closed on Iwo Jima, Bonin Is., arriving thereat between 16 and 19 Feb. 1945. Participated both afloat and ashore in operationa against Japanese forces in the seizure and occupation of Iwo Jima. Embarked aboard USS PRESIDENT MONROE )AP-104) on 25 Mar, and transisted 27 Mar to Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Is., arriving thereat on 2 Apr. Further transisted from Eniwetok on 4 Apr to Maui T.H. arriving and disbarking at Kahului Harbor thereat on 12 Apr 1945. Trained and prepared for invasion of Japan mainland.

6 Aug 1945

Returned U.S.A. about 13 Aug 1945.

1 Sep 1945

Reassigned to Signal Battalion, V Amphibious Corps

29 Oct 1945

Redesignated the 1st. Radio Intelligence Platoon.
Keith W. Johnson: Date of Mustering out of U.S.M.C.R.

7 Nov 1945

Deactivated at Sasebo, Kyushu, Japan

Story received on 28 September 2002
Story placed on website on 11 October 2002
Story updated and modified on 21 October 2002


The newspaper article above is from the following:

Spooner, Wisconson, Thursday, May 2, 1991 Section D-18, entitled "Mementos bring old enemies together" by Gene Prigge and permission given for its use by the subject of the article, Mr. Keith W. Johnson of Sponner, Wisconson.

We are deeply grateful for the material provided to World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words by Mr. Keith W. Johnson. This happy ending to his World War II story was made possible through the tireless efforts of the following wonderful folks: Priscilla Stillwell, Rie Nagashima and Keith's wife, Cynthia.

Without their dedication, this human interest story would not have been written.


image of NEWNow you can read updates and NEW information regarding the continuing story of "The Returned Photo Album".

Keith Johnson has recently returned an additional item that he had found on Guam during the invasion. He has returned another family treasure to yet another family of a former Japanese soldier.

Keith Johnson: "The Returned Photo Album"

Keith Johnson: "The Returned Photo Album" Part 2

Keith Johnson: "The Returned Photo Album" Part 3



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