Bringing the Text to Life
There were 496 names on the list.
Names written on thin sheets of paper, in tight columns. Four hundred and ninety-six names that Johnnie Johnson didn’t want anyone to forget.
The year was 1950, and Johnson was an Army private, just 18 years old, when his division was thrown into combat in what they called a “police action” in Korea. About two-thirds of his comrades were killed, and many others were captured, including himself. While being held as a POW, American planes accidentally strafed Johnson’s building, and several more men were killed. Johnson began to worry that these brave men would be forgotten, and that their loved ones back home would never know where, when and how they had died.
So he started a list. Using a pencil stub, he wrote their names on anything he could get his hands on: discarded cigarette packages, strips of wallpaper, pieces of trash. He wrote their names, their units and their dates of death.
After three months, most of Johnson’s fellow prisoners were sick and...