Major John Johnson

Author: unknown
Puka Puka Parades, March 1948, vol. 3 no. 2

Biography of Major John (Jack) Johnson

President Gregg Sinclair of the University of Hawaii has announced the establishment of a Jack Johnson Memorial Scholarship for exceptional University of Hawaii athletes.

The new scholarship is named for Major John (Jack)Johnson Jr., who was an outstanding athlete at the University. He was killed in action in the Vicinity of Cassino, January 25, 1944, while serving as the executive officer of the 100th Inf. Battalion.

The scholarship will be awarded to a worthy athlete in a major sport.

Major Johnson, who was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Johnson of Honolulu served as Captain of the University of Hawaii football team in 1934-35. This eleven is remembered locally as the Rainbow team which bested the University of California in the 1935 New Year’s Day game. Besides earning four letters on the gridiron the late Major was an accomplished swimmer and soccer player.

He received his B. A. degree in June, 1935 from the University of Hawaii and prior to being in the army was employed as an overseer of Mo Birde Sugar Co., on Kauai and later as an assistant agriculturist with the HSPA.

Major Johnson, who was born in Los Angeles in 1914, entered service in 1942 as a captain. He trained with the 100th in Camp McCoy, Wisconsin and Camp Shelby, Mississippi and fought valliantly[sic] with the Battalion up the Italian boot untl1 the time of his death.

On Dec. 23, 1943, he was promoted to the rank of Major and made executive officer of the Battalion in a ceremony marked by the presence of General Mark Clark. On November 25, 1945, Major Johnson was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously for extraordinary bravery in action. War correspondent Clark Lee wrote of him, “He was a great lad.. He had the sun of the Islands in his speech..Most of all he felt a tremendous responsibility to the boys he commanded.”

In honor of Hawaii’s 100th Infantry Battalion and in memory of his son, the late Mr. John A. Johnson created a new hibiscus which he presented to the CLUB 100–the “Hawaii 100th Inf. Bn. Hibiscus.” Also, before his death last June, the elder Johnson donated his large collection of hibiscus varieties to the University of Hawaii in memory of University boys lost in action.