Rosamond Johnson Beach Honors African American War Hero
by U.S. Naval Air Station Pensacola Public Affairs
A popular destination for beachgoers, fishermen, and people
seeking recreation near the water, Rosamond Johnson Beach honors an
African American hero who was killed in action serving in the U.S.
Army during the Korean War.
This beautiful beach is as rich as it is
in history as it is in beauty. The beach is situated on the east
side of Perdido Key, and is part of Gulf Islands National Seashore.
July 10, 2020 - A monument in Pvt. Rosamond Johnson Jr.’s memory is located near the Johnson Beach Pavilion. The monument was erected in 1996 to honor the soldier for his courageous acts. (U.S. Navy photo by Joshua Cox, NAS Pensacola Public Affairs Office)
Pvt. Rosamond Johnson Jr., a Pensacola native, was born on May
18, 1933. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at only 15, lying about his
age to support his family, according to the National Park Service.
Johnson, a member of the 24th Infantry who was stationed in Japan
during the Korean War, died after successfully carrying two wounded
soldiers to safety. Johnson was rescuing a third comrade when he was
“The soldiers of the 24th Infantry regiment
who fought in Korea were heirs to a long tradition of service by
[African Americans] in America’s wars,” according to the book Black
Soldier, White Army: The 24th Infantry Regiment in Korea, available
to read online at history.army.mil. “Their forebears had fought
alongside the colonial militias during the nation’s early years, at
Lexington and Concord, and all through the American Revolution.”
Johnson died at the young age of 17 and was posthumously awarded
the Purple Heart in 1950 for his heroic efforts. He was the first
resident of Escambia County to die in the Korean War, and was laid
to rest at Barrancas National Cemetery onboard Naval Air Station
During the time when Johnson lived in
Pensacola, segregation was prevalent in American society.
“Immediately after the Civil War ended, some states began imposing
restrictions on the daily lives of African Americans, whether they
were survivors of slavery or had always been free,” according to the
Library of Congress.
“These laws affected nearly every aspect
of public life for African Americans in Escambia County, Florida,
including the world-renowned beaches,” according to the National
Park Service. “While places like Pensacola Beach were designated
“whites only,” the eastern end of Perdido Key became a refuge where
[African American] citizens could enjoy the beauty and recreational
opportunities of the beach and the Gulf.”
death the Sunset Riding Club Inc., proposed the beach be named after
him and was subsequently named in his honor in 1950. In 1973, the
beach was added to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. A monument in
Johnson’s memory was erected in 1996 to honor the soldier for his
Learn more about National Parks Service's Perdido Key Area