Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995 Page: 155
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Supreme Sacrifice: Colorado County's World War II Dead
courthouse plaque. However, he was listed on the Weimar VFW plaque, and he was said
to have been killed in Germany. Nothing else is known of the circumstances of his
Seaman 1st Class Johnnie David Hutchins
August 4, 1922 - September 4, 1943
After throwing the Japanese off Guadalcanal, the American offensive,
climbing the so-called Solomon ladder to New Guinea, began. Much of 1942 had focused
on the American effort to save Port Moresby and the passages to Australia. In 1943,
the Allies made an offensive push toward liberation of New Guinea, with an eye on a
return to the Philippines. Lae was a major Japanese base on the northeastern shores of
New Guinea. In July 1943 a major offensive to capture Lae was launched. U. S. Army
troops landed near Salamaua and captured it on September 12. An ambitious assault by
U. S. and Australian troops enveloped Lae, capturing it on September 16. The most
celebrated casualty from the Colorado County area, a Congressional Medal of Honor
winner named Johnnie David Hutchins, died in these operations.
Johnnie David Hutchins, the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Marion Hutchins, was
born August 4, 1922 at Weimar. His family later moved to Lissie. Like the other
youngsters from that town, he attended Eagle Lake schools. He played on the 1938 Eagle
Lake Eagles football squad with Franklin Reese, who was aboard Wasp when Billy Cook
died, and Fred Estlinbaum, who died in Germany in 1945. Hutchins volunteered in
November 1942 at the age of 20. Less than a year later he was dead, and the bravery
that he showed in the face of death has not been forgotten to this day.'os
According to the presidental citation on his Congressional Medal of Honor,
he received it
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous valor above and beyond the call of
duty while serving aboard a landing ship, tank, during the assault on Lae, New
Guinea, September 4, 1943. As the ship on which Hutchins was stationed
approached the enemy occupied beach under a veritable hail of fire from
Japanese shore batteries and aeriel bombardment a hostile torpedo pierced the
surf and bore down upon the vessel with deadly accuracy. In the tense split
seconds before the helmsman could steer clear of the threatening missle, a bomb
struck the pilot house, dislodging him from his station and left the stricken ship
helplessly exposed. Fully aware of the dire peril of the situation, Hutchins,
although mortally wounded by the shattering explosion, quickly grasped the
wheel and exhausted the last of his strength in manuevering the vessel clear of
the advancing torpedo. Still clinging to the helm, he eventually succumbed to his
injuries, his final thoughts concerned only the safety of ship, his final efforts
expended toward the security of his mission. He gallantly gave his life in the
service of his country.106
The local commotion over Hutchins' death did not really start until it was
announced that he was being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. His
sharecropper parents and brother and sisters were then residing on the R. L. Cook farm.
104 Weimar Mercury, February 20, 1975.
105 Eagle Lake Headlight, April 28, 1944, July 2, 1948.
106 Eagle Lake Headlight, September 17, 1943, April 28, 1944; Weimar Mercury, April 28, 1944.
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995, periodical, September 1995; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151395/m1/47/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed April 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.