“It is better to fight for something, than live for nothing.”-General George Patton, Jr.
Milton Johnson is 96-years-old. He never thought he would live to be such an age. He has fought for something as a member of the United States Army during WWII and he has lived a plentiful life since.
Johnson grew up in Amery. Around the age of 18 he was drafted, joined the Army and was sent to boot camp at Fort Riley in Kansas.
In 1887, Fort Riley became the site of the United States Cavalry School. The famous all-black 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments, the soldiers of which were called “Buffalo Soldiers”, were stationed at Fort Riley at various times in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since the end of World War II, various infantry divisions have been assigned there.
Johnson said he was scared when he was drafted as he was young and he did not know what the future would hold for him.
From Fort Riley, Johnson was sent to North Carolina where he was trained in advanced infantry.
After North Carolina, Johnson headed to Fort Meade in Maryland. Fort Meade is located between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore and is the second-largest workforce of any Army installation in the U.S.
Fort Meade became a training center during World War II, its ranges and other facilities used by more than 200 units and approximately 3,500,000 men between 1942 and 1946. The wartime peak-military personnel figure at Fort Meade was reached in March 1945 with 70,000. Fort Meade was home to many services. The Cooks and Bakers School supplied bread for the entire Post (approximately 20,000 people including families of married men). In 1942, the Third Service Command opened the Special Services Unit Training Center where Soldiers were trained in all phases of the entertainment field. Entertainers, musicians, and others involved in the entertainment industry, including swing-band leader, Glenn Miller, served in Special Services. Fort Meade was home to a number of German and Italian prisoners of war. In September 1943, the first shipment of 1,632 Italian and 58 German prisoners arrived at Fort Meade. Some of those prisoners, including a highly decorated German submarine commander named Werner Henke, died during their captivity and were buried at Fort Meade.
Eventually Johnson’s job was to guard German prisoners. He said, “It was a hard job because you were worried about your own safety too.”
When the war ended, Johnson joined the Minnesota National Guard.
Johnson went on to marry, have children, grandchildren and great-children. He lived in Denver, CO. for 52 years before returning to Amery to live with his brother.