- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer introduced legislation Thursday to allow a black World War I soldier from Albany to receive a posthumous Medal of Honor.

The New York Democrat’s bill would exempt Sgt. Henry Johnson from the rules specifying that a Medal of Honor must be awarded within five years of the heroic act being recognized. The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Paul Rand, R-Ky. A companion bill will be introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, a Democrat from the Albany area.

Schumer announced last month that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recommended Johnson receive the nation’s highest military decoration for bravery in combat.

If Congress approves the legislation, it goes to President Barack Obama for final approval.

Johnson, a railroad porter from Albany, was serving in the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment when he saved a comrade from capture during a German raid in France in May 1918.

While standing guard at night, Johnson’s front-line position was attacked by more than two dozen of the enemy. Despite being severely wounded, the 5-foot-4 Johnson killed several attackers and forced the others to retreat.

Johnson’s heroics earned him medals from France, but he never received any decorations from the U.S. military until 2003, when he was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest military honor.

Johnson died a destitute alcoholic in 1929 and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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