Gulf Islands National Seashore officials announced the annual commemoration of Private Rosamond Johnson will be held at the Perdido Key Area on May 6, 2017 at 10:00 am. A commemoration ceremony and wreath lying will take place at the Star Pavilion. The event is open to the public and all are encourage to attend.
The keynote speaker at this year’s commemoration will be U.S. Navy Captain Frank Smith, Retired. Captain Smith will be joined by Dan Brown, Gulf Islands National Seashore Superintendent, Alison Davenport, Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce, and Eugene Franklin, President/CEO Florida Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc. The NATTC Color Guard and Vocalist group will perform. Additionally, the ceremony will feature music as well as, artwork and essay contest winners, from the Global Learning Academy in Pensacola.
The ceremony will conclude with words from the Johnson family, and wreath laying ceremony at the Johnson monument. This program is made possible by the support of the Perdido Key Chamber of Commerce, Johnson Beach Society, and Florida Black Chamber of Commerce.
After enlisting in the U.S. Army at 15, Johnson died in combat two years later on the Korea Peninsula. While engage with the enemy, on July 26, 1950, Private Johnson carried two wounded soldiers to safety. His was fatally wounded while attempting to save a third wounded man. On August 21, 1950, Rosamond was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart for the wounds he sustained while saving his fellow soldiers.
At the time of his death, Pensacola beaches were racially segregated. The Sunset Riding Club, Inc. leased a county owned recreational area in 1950 for the sole use of bathing and recreational facilities for “colored citizens.” In honor of his ultimate sacrifice, and in recognition as the first Escambia County resident, the recreational area became known as Rosamond Johnson Beach. The area became park of Gulf Islands National Seashore in 1971, and the name was retained. Today, a monument and wayside honor Private Johnson and his service to the United States of America.
Johnson Beach is located within the Perdido Key Area of Gulf Islands National Seashore. It is one of the most popular beach recreation areas of the seashore and is open daily from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. There is an entrance fee for this area.