In his freshman year at Punahou, Johnnie was “out-touched” at the finish of the 50-yard freestyle in the ILH championship swimming meet and came in fifth. This prevented him from winning an unprecedented 12 letters in three sports in four years – he only won 11! These included four in football, three in swimming and four in track.This article appears as originally published in the Summer 1982 issue of the Punahou Bulletin.
In football, Johnnie went both ways – offense and defense – playing both end and tackle. He won All-Stars honors in his sophomore, junior and senior years and was captain of the squad in his senior year. In track he ran the 440 and relay events. As a swimmer he specialized as a freestyle sprinter and diver.
Enrolling at Dartmouth in 1940 he immediately made the freshman football team and in 1941 was Dartmouth’s first-string varsity guard and All-American Mention. Considered one of the finest prospects in Dartmouth’s football history it was anticipated he would easily win All-American honors in future years. Unfortunately World War II cut short his promising football career. Entering Naval Aviation, Johnnie became a torpedo bomber pilot in the Pacific Combat Area participating in action from the Palaus to Okinawa. An outstanding pilot he was the recipient of the distinguished Flying Cross and five Air Medals. Following World War II, he carved a niche for himself in Hawaii’s fledgling airline industry, founding Trans-Air Hawaii, an early air-freight company, and later Royal Hawaiian Airlines, today one of our largest commuter airlines. From aviation he switched to ranching, spending many years managing several Big Island spreads. During this period he was always a bastion of support for the “O” Men’s Kona Safari, which annually provides produce for the Punahou Carnival. He returned to Oahu in 1971 and is currently an executive of a commercial real estate firm, a rancher – and always an avid Punahou supporter!