Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 5, Number 3, September, 1995 Page: 156
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
They were notified in September 1943 of Johnnie's death and told only that he had been
"interred on Allied Soil." As had been Hutchins' wish, his parents bought a home in Lissie
with his government benefits. He became the first Texas native in the navy to win the
Medal of Honor in World War II, and one of only about thirty Texans to win the medal,
the highest award that an American serviceman can win, during the war.107
Later, the navy named a destroyed escort, the U. S. S. Johnnie Hutchins,
after him. At the May 2, 1944 christening of the ship, Lt. Rowland Dillard said "Hutchins
was the best helmsman. That's why I had him at the wheel. Afterward, when we went
to remove his body, we had to pry his fingers from the wheel." The trip to Orange for
the christening was the first ride on a train for all the Hutchins children, and the parents'
first since they had gone from Weimar to Waelder on December 14, 1918 on their
Hutchins' Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded by Rear Admiral
A. C. Bennett in a public ceremony on September 21, 1944 at the Sam Houston
Coliseum. Houston mayor Otis Massey was master of ceremonies. The event was kicked
off by a short parade, featuring the Ellington Field Military Band and a detachment of
U. S. Marines, down Main Street. A train had stopped in Lissie solely to pick up Hutchins'
parents. The little town of Lissie had had its own celebration before the Hutchins family
boarded the train. A few months later, Hutchins' fame was spread nationwide, when,
on July 16, 1945, NBC radio carried a dramatization of his heroic actions.109
His remains came home in June 1948. Funeral services were conducted on
July 1, 1948 by Rev. Robert Tupper of Evangelical United Brethren Church of Lissie, who
chose as the theme for his sermon, "Men live not by years, but deeds." Hutchins was
survived by a large family, including his parents; five sisters: Fay Etta, Elizabeth, Elsie,
Marion, and Myrtle, the last two of them twins; and one brother, Howard. He was buried
in Lakeside Cemetery. In 1987, a special Medal-of-Honor-marker was placed on his grave
Hutchins is listed by the Texas Veterans Commission as a Wharton County
casualty. At the Wharton County courthouse, a special stone in the walk around an
eternal flame commemorates his winning of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Unfortunately, the medal depicted on the stone is the army/air version of the Medal of
Honor, not the somewhat different navy/marine medal, which was awarded Hutchins.
New commemorations of Hutchins continue to come on a regular basis.
Hutchins Hall at the Dallas Naval Air Station was named in his honor in 1981. In 1989,
the Texas Chapter of the LST Association decidated a plaque to his memory on the
memorial wall at Nimitz State Historical Park at Fredericksburg. In 1991, a street in Eagle
Lake was named Johnnie D. Hutchins Drive. In 1995, a building in Little Creek, Virginia,
was named Hutchins Hall."1
107 Eagle Lake Headlight, September 17, 1943, April 28, 1944.
108 Eagle Lake Headlight, May 5, 1944; Weimar Mercury, May 5, 1944.
109 Eagle Lake Headlight, September 15, 1944, September 22, 1944, July 13, 1945; Weimar
Mercury, September 29, 1944.
110 Eagle Lake Headlight, July 2, 1948; Colorado County Citizen, July 1, 1948.
111 Fredericksburg Standard, April 5, 1989; Eagle Lake Headlight, August 22, 1991, August 29,
1991. Additional information provided by Debbie Lewis and Marion Winsenreid, Hutchins' niece and sister.
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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/m1/48/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.