In memorium: Father Howard Johnson

LELAND – Lt. Colonel Howard W. Johnson, USA (Ret.), an Army chaplain and Catholic priest, passed away peacefully on March 20, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 86 years old. He led a life full of service to his country and the Lord.
Father Johnson spent his formative years in Leland, Mississippi and was born in Washington, D.C. in 1933. Father Johnson attended St. Joseph’s High School in Greenville, graduating in 1952. His studies next took him to St. Bernard’s Seminary in Alabama, where he graduated with a degree in Theology. He continued his graduate studies at Notre Dame University, in South Bend, Indiana, studying religious education. His love of learning later led Father Johnson to earn two Master degrees, one from Baylor University, for pastoral psychology, and another from Long Island University (New York), for guidance and counseling.
He was ordained on May 26, 1960 at St. James Church (Diocese of Jackson) in Leland. From 1960 to 1964, he returned to his high school alma mater, where he was the assistant pastor and high school religious education teacher at St. Joseph’s Parish and High School in Greenville.
Father Johnson enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1964, and attended Chaplain’s Officer School at Fort Hamilton, in Brooklyn, New York. As a Chaplain for the U.S. Army for nearly twenty-five years, he provided spiritual and religious coverage at the Battalion, Brigade, Division and Post levels. He served twelve years overseas, including tours in Korea, Panama, Vietnam, and Germany. He also had posts throughout various army bases in the United States, including at the United States Military Academy at West Point. For his service providing spiritual and religious coverage during his overseas tours he received numerous service commendations and awards, including The Bronze Star Medal for his coverage to soldiers in combat in Vietnam.
When he returned to the United States, he provided counseling to veterans as part of his chaplaincy duties. He worked tirelessly with veterans afflicted with drug addiction, not only as a spiritual counsel, but as a friend and advocate. His gentle spirit provided solace to many.
After completing 24 years of distinguished active duty military service, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Johnson retired from the military in 1988. He then served for several years as the director of religious education for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, living in Washington, D.C., until he fell ill. He resided in the D.C. area for the remainder of his life, mostly at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, D.C.
In addition to spending time with family and friends, Father Johnson very much liked reading mystery novels and Washington Redskins football.
Father Howard’s ashes will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia at a time to be determined later.