Forrest Bryant Johnson: Phantom Warrior: The Heroic True Story of Pvt. John McKinney's One-Man Stand Against the Japanese in World War II
He was too weak to farm, so he was sent out into the swamps of Georgia with a sling-shot, told to bring back whatever he could for the family to eat. Years later, he would be sent to the Philippines with the 33rd Infantry Division. His fellow soldiers were far from home, but to the misfortune of more than one hundred attacking Japanese soldiers, Private John McKinney was right at home in the swamps.
And that was where he earned the nation's highest award for military valor: the Medal of Honor.
The son of a Georgia sharecropper, John McKinney had nothing more than a third grade education when he joined the Army. After serving in several Pacific campaigns, his unit was assigned to Dingalan Bay in the Philippines. McKinney would earn the Medal of Honor for his actions on May 11, 1945. While resting after a long tour of duty, he was struck from behind by an enemy blade, and shook off the blow to overcome the attacker - and single-handedly turn back the entire Japanese force. In thirty minutes of battle, he used rifles, swords, fists, and swamp-learned instincts to repel a company of more than two hundred men, inflicting casualties estimated as high as one hundred forty.
The reclusive McKinney survived the war but left behind no personal papers. In writing Phantom Warrior: The Heroic True Story of Pvt. John McKinney's One-Man Stand Against the Japanese in World War II, author Forrest Bryant Johnson has relied on interviews, official documents, and vividly descriptive prose to re-create not only McKinney's battle, but also the entire life of a man not born into a typical portrait of heroism - a man who was called mabaroshi ("phantom") by his enemies, but was deeply rooted in his family, his home state of Georgia, and the heritage of the Citizen Soldier in America.
Forrest Bryant Johnson was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and graduated from the University of Louisville with degrees in chemistry and psychology before serving for nine years in the U.S. Army. Now retired, he lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is also the author of the acclaimed Hour of Redemption: The Heroic WWII Saga of America's Most Daring POW Rescue.