Ralph Henry Johnson was born on January 11, 1949 in Charleston, South Carolina. He attended Courtnay Elementary School and Simonton Jr. High School. During Ralph’s early years, Marines graduating from Boot Camp in Beaufort would ride the bus to to their new duty stations. The lay-over in Charleston provided the new Marines with an opportunity to stretch their legs with a walk down King Street. Ralph would point would point them out and tell those with him that one day he would be a United States Marine.

After middle school Ralph joined the Job Corps Program which provided technical training and a path to a High School diploma. When he turned 18, Ralph joined Marine Corps Reserve March 23, 1967, and was discharged to enlist in the regular Marine Corps on July 2, 1967. He completed his basic training in November 1967 and promoted to Private First Class (PFC) on November 1, 1967. 
PFC Johnson arrived in the Republic of Vietnam on January 8, 1968, and served as a reconnaissance scout with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division. Ralph is remembered by his fellow Marines as a friendly, outgoing young man, who quickly made friends with the other team members. Ralph didn’t smoke, drink or use strong language. Many remember him on his bunk reading his bible. He earned their respect on his first patrol when unusual circumstances put him, a rookie, in the rear where normally an experienced Recon team member would have been positioned. After the team was ambushed from the front, PFC Johnson was required to lead the team away from the attack, and he did so with such aggressive, smart and evasive maneuvers that he was highly praised by his team leader. He was considered a natural “Reconner”
On March 5, 1968, while on Operation Rock, a four-day operation by the 3rd Battalion 7th Marines in the "Arizona Territory" northwest of An Hoa Combat Base, his 15-man reconnaissance patrol was attacked by a platoon-sized enemy force on Hill 146 in the Quan Duc Duc Valley. When a hand grenade landed in the fighting hole he shared with fellow Marines, he yelled a warning and immediately hurled his body over the explosive charge. Absorbing the full impact of the blast, he was killed instantly. His heroic actions on that day were recognized with a posthumous award of the United States' highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor.
Ralph H. Johnson is buried in the Beaufort National Cemetery in South Carolina. 
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