Marine veteran saves neighbor from burning home in Norristown

Christie Ileto Image
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Marine veteran saves neighbor from burning home
James "Cowboy" Johnson, a 70-year-old former Marine, jumped into action to save his neighbor from a burning home.

NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- James "Cowboy" Johnson is a hero on his Norristown, Pennsylvania block - not only for being a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, but also for what he did Monday morning.

Despite lung issues, 70-year-old Johnson ran into a burning home to save his neighbor. It happened around 10 a.m. on the 1000 block of Swede Street.

"I appreciate you so much," said Magistrate Judge Gregory Scott.

Late Monday night, Judge Scott, who is also a Norristown firefighter, presented a certificate to Johnson for his heroism.

The Norristown Fire Department also applauded his quick-thinking actions on Facebook.

"When I first saw (the fire), it was kind of light. Driving up there, it got heavier," recalled Johnson.

He had just come home from the bank when he saw the raging inferno. He then called 911 and jumped into action.

With the help of two young boys, Johnson kicked in the door and rescued a man on the second floor.

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"He was on fire! I said, 'We got to get him out quick!' I drug him down the stairs, brought him outside and I'm just putting the fire out in his hair," said Johnson.

The former Marine did this without any protection or gear. He admits that it was the furthest thing from his mind.

"I wasn't worried about that. That doesn't phase me. I worried about saving a life," he said.

The city will recognize Johnson for his heroic actions next week during a Municipal Council meeting.