Austin Leroy Johnson was born on June 23, 1923. At the time, the family moved to Avondale, Pennsylvania, where Austin graduated from Avon Grove High School.
Austin was drafted into the Army on March 8, 1943, at the age of twenty. He attended basic training at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland; Fort McClellan, Alabama; North and South Camp Hood, Texas; and Shreveport, Louisiana.
Austin attained the rank of T/5 and was assigned to the 614th Tank Battalion, Field Artillery. This unit was part of the 7th Army under General Alexander M. Patch. Johnson fought in the European theatre, specifically in England, France, and southern Germany. Austin was promoted to the rank of Corporal in April 1945.
Austin Johnson was Killed in Action on May 2, 1945 in an enemy ambush while on an important reconnaissance mission in western Austria. He would have been twenty-two on the Sunday after his death. He received the Purple Heart.
Johnson's body arrived in the United States on November 15, 1948 aboard the Carroll Victory, and he was later buried at the Church of Christ, in Ercildoun, Pennsylvania. The funeral was held on December 10, 1948. Corporal Austin Johnson, serial number 33588825, was given full military honors by the American Legion Post of Kennett Square and the Charter-Miller-Johnson VFW Post No. 8984. The funeral was closed with the firing of the three-gun salute and the playing of taps.
Ironically, Corporal Johnson's death occurred within hours of the effective date and time of the April 29, 1944 surrender of German forces in Caserta, Italy; and within days of the final surrender of German forces on May 7, 1945. The surrender in Italy followed the Po Valley Offensive, which occurred just over the Italian Alps from western Austria, where Johnson died.
Austin's brother, Abner, served in the Navy for two years as a Stewart's Mate 1/c.
Research by Erin Haehle and Jesse Griiffin, Avon Grove High School