It’s Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. Far more importantly, it’s the day we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
One of the many men who died far too young during World War II was Packers guard Howard “Smiley” Johnson. A U.S. Marine Captain, Johnson perished at Iwo Jima in February 1945.
As explained by WTMJ, Johnson played for the Packers from 1940 to 1941. He and other teammates were scouting the Bears in a game against the Chicago Cardinals on December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
“‘Tony Canadeo said later on, ‘We were sitting up in the grandstands and we heard about Pearl Harbor, and everybody said, “Where the hell is Pearl Harbor?”‘” former Packers beat writer Art Daley told WTMJ.
A week later, Johnson played his last game for the Packers, a 33-14 playoff loss to the Bears. It was the only postseason meeting between Green Bay and Chicago prior to the 2010 NFC title game.
The Packers Hall of Fame honors Johnson with a folded flag in a display case. Let’s remember Johnson today, and everyone else who has died in the service of our country.