Perdido Key, Fla. (WKRG) — One of the significant parts of history at Perdido Key is Johnson Beach.  But it was almost a forgotten part of the history.

“And so it has a far-reaching history but it was very, very silent,” said Alison Davenport, a Perdido Key realtor who was instrumental in making sure the man the beach is named for remains known. Davenport stepped up well more than a decade ago.

Johnson Beach is named for Rosamond Johnson, Jr. At the age of 15 Johnson, who lived in Pensacola,  decided he wanted to join the Army and cajoled his mother to eventually sign a waiver since he was too young.

Davenport said, “She told him, let’s pray about it.  And this went on and on until finally, he said, ‘Mama, God told me to join the Army.’ And she said ‘Well, I guess I gotta sign.”

Johnson joined the Army–and he was sent to the war in Korea.  In one hard-fought battle–after successfully rescuing two fellow soldiers who were wounded, Johnson, just 17, was shot and killed trying to rescue a third. He was the first person from Escambia County killed in Korea–and he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. Shortly afterward, in 1950, Johnson Beach was named in his honor. At the time during segregation, it was a beach where black people could go.

“And it was called Johnson Beach even up until the time it became a national seashore and it retained that name. It just kind of got lost in the shuffle for a while,” said Davenport.

The beach became part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore under the National Park Service in 1973.  But after she met Johnson’s family in 2009, Davenport made it her mission to bring the beach’s namesake back to prominence. There were two things of major importance on her list.

“The first thing was to get Rosamond Johnson’s name on the front of that national seashore–at the front of the national park service. The way it had been many years ago,” she said.

Secondly, she wanted a yearly remembrance at the beach. “That has a patriotic and spiritual element to it.”

That happens now each May.

And there was one more thing — moving a granite monument from a place seldom seen to a more prominent position.

“It’s is a very prominent spot now. But when it was first erected, it was erected basically at the edge of a parking lot behind the bathroom pavilion,” said Davenport.

Davenport got help from people in the community and the park service to make these things and more happen, but without her attention and persistence through several years, who knows if Rosamond Johnson would even be remembered today.  In the end, she says, it was just a matter of not letting Johnson’s remaining family down.

She said, “There are only two brothers still living.  And I promised them that as long as I was still on this side of the sand the story wouldn’t be forgotten.”