Kenly Native Publishes Her Uncle’s WWII Memoir

Mary Susan Heath, a native of Johnston County, has published a memoir about her uncle, military veteran Lehman (“Legs”) Johnson, Jr., entitled Legs Astride the World.

Heath will be signing copies of her book on Saturday, November 28th from 10 am to noon at the Selma Historical Museum, 104 West Anderson Street in downtown Selma, as part of the town’s Shop Local/ Shop Small Saturday event.

Lieutenant Colonel Lehman H. (“Legs”) Johnson, Jr. was born in 1916 and grew up in the farming community of Powhatan, just outside Clayton, where his father also owned a hardware store. Johnson served in the Army during World War II, fought in the Philippines, was stationed in Japan as part of the Occupation Forces, and oversaw the executions of Nazi War criminals at Landsberg Prison in Germany.  He also fought in the Korean War.

Heath grew up in Kenly and resides in Goldsboro, where she has been active in the Wayne County Historical Society and wrote two plays, including “Home Grown in Goldsboro, Dorothy Cotton (1930-2018),” that were funded through the North Carolina Humanities Council.

Heath interviewed her uncle over the span of 12 years at his home in Mebane, from 1997 to shortly before his death in 2009. “He said, ‘I’ve got some things to say that I haven’t told anybody yet,’” Heath explained. “As a former journalism teacher, I understood the historical significance of those personal stories, especially his time in the Pacific Theatre on the islands of Leyte and Luzon. We developed a relationship that helped me to understand our veterans’ emotional needs as well, to tell their stories and to be heard.”

Legs Astride the World, is available through Deeds Publishing, Athens, Georgia, and online booksellers.