March 23, 2003 — Army Pfc. Howard Johnson II
21, of Mobile, Ala.; assigned to 507th Maintenance Company, Fort Bliss, Texas; killed in an ambush near Nasiriyah, Iraq.
Army Pfc. Howard Johnson II “was God’s gift to us and the Lord has taken him away,” said his father, the Rev. Howard Johnson, who pastors Truevine Missionary Baptist Church in Prichard, Ala.
Johnson, 62, said he and his wife, Gloria, have two daughters and had waited 17 years for a son. Mrs. Johnson, her face wet with tears, said, “We had no idea war would break out and we would lose our son.”
Called “Junior” around the house, Johnson worked at a grocery store during high school. He brought his friends’ shoes home to shine them when they couldn’t afford shoe polish. His father had hoped his son, who was in ROTC in high school, would attend technology college after graduation. Johnson chose to enlist in the Army instead.
_ Associated Press
Scholarship named for Texas soldier killed in Iraq
EL PASO, Texas — The Rev. Howard Johnson wore his son’s Purple Heart and Bronze Star on Sunday as he announced the Unity Missionary Baptist Church’s creation of a scholarship in the name of Pfc. Howard Johnson II, one of nine Fort Bliss soldiers killed in an ambush in Iraq in March 2003.
The pastor said he was touched that his son had not been forgotten by the El Paso community.
“It is amazing the people he has touched around the world. In Mobile (Ala.), they named a park after him and children are named after him,” he said in a story in Monday’s El Paso Times.
Johnson delivered the morning sermon at the church his son attended after being assigned to Fort Bliss.
Pfc. Howard Johnson II was part of Fort Bliss’ 507th Maintenance Company.
Some who served with him saw the scholarship as a way to remember an upbeat man who made lasting friendships through his humor and selflessness.
“Whenever you might be feeling down about something, he was always right there to lift you back up,” Marcus Dubois, 21, said.
The church is trying to raise $20,000 to send someone to college in memory of Johnson.
After Sunday’s announcement, a banquet at Fort Bliss reunited some members of the 507th, including former prisoners of war Jessica Lynch and Joseph Hudson. Lynch declined to talk to the media.
— Associated Press