October 8, 1922 (Waterbury, CT) – December 8, 1941; 19 years old; unmarried
Last local address: Greenwood Avenue, Waterbury
Enlisted on April 23, 1941
Service number 11010756
Unit: 64th Coast Artillery Corps, Battery E
Private Johnson was the nephew of World War I Army Private David L. Fannick who was killed in action in 1918, and son of a Waterbury police detective.
Private Johnson was stationed at Fort Shafter, 5 miles east of Pearl Harbor. During the attack on December 7th, Private Johnson ran to his station and returned fire with anti-aircraft guns. He was wounded in the arm and died from those wounds.
From the Republican-American December 6, 2013; by Mike Patrick
WATERBURY — More than seven decades later, the city he left behind at age 19 remembers that Paul M. Johnson died a hero. He was stationed in Hawaii when, on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. “He did what he was supposed to do,” said Bob Dorr of the city’s Veterans Memorial Committee, which will honor Johnson at its Pearl Harbor Day ceremonies today. “He ran to his gun and defended our nation, giving his life.” Attendees will gather at 12:30 p.m. at the Waterbury Elks Club, 233 West Main St., with Patriotic Services beginning promptly at 12:55 p.m., the exact time the first bombs fell on Pearl Harbor. From there, there will be a procession at 2 p.m. to the Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge on Freight Street, where a new sign has been erected in Johnson’s honor. A boat filled with flowers will be launched into the Naugatuck River to honor the spirit of the 2,403 men who died in the Pearl Harbor attack. Johnson’s younger sister, Edith Savitsky, who was 13 when her brother left for the Army around 1940, is expected to attend today’s event, along with more than a dozen of Johnson’s other relatives, most of whom live in the suburbs of Waterbury, Dorr said. Johnson is buried in Hebrew Benefit Cemetery on Stillson Road, at the David L. Fannick Jewish War Veterans No. 91 Memorial. Fannick, the first Jewish soldier to die in World War I, was Johnson’s uncle.
From The Republican-American December 2013; by John McKenna
LITCHFIELD — A U.S. Army private who died after being wounded defending Pearl Harbor from attack by the Japanese was honored as the Veteran of the Month Saturday by American Legion Post 44 of Bantam. Paul M. Johnson of Waterbury was recognized during Post 44’s service at the Bantam Borough Hall. His memorial flag will fly over the All Wars memorial in bantam until January 4.
Presenting the memorial flag was Thomas Ciarlo of Thomaston, who knew Johnson growing up in Waterbury. Ciarlo, two years younger than Johnson, represented AMVETS Post 24 in Torrington. The honoring of Johnson came as Post 44 marked the 72nd anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. Robert Dorr, Secretary of the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee, attended the service to pay tribute to Johnson and present Post 44 with a citation crediting it for supporting those who sacrificed their lives during the war. Johnson was stationed with an anti-aircraft battery at Fort Shafter near Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. The unit launched a barrage against Japanese fighter planes heading for the harbor on December 7, 1941 and downed several of them. He was severely wounded during the attack and died the next day. Johnson is buried in the war veterans section of the Hebrew Benefit Cemetery in Waterbury. A plaque serving as a memorial to Johnson was installed in Waterbury’s Fulton Park, near Johnson’s childhood home by the Waterbury Veterans Memorial Committee as a reminder that “freedom is not free.” Born October 10, 1922 in Waterbury, Johnson was the son of Henry L. and Hilda Johnson. He attended Mary Abbott School and Leavenworth High School. Before enlisting in the Army he was employed as a shipping clerk in Waterbury.
Private Johnson is buried at Waterbury Hebrew Benefit Association Cemetery, 244 Stillson Road, Waterbury, CT; Plot V25, at the David L. Fannick Jewish War Veterans Post 91 Memorial. Photos by webmaster.