MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville resident and World War II prisoner of war Hjalmar Johansson died suddenly on June 30. He was 92.
Johansson was a nose gunner in the Air Force during WWII in a B-24 bomber aircraft. He was shot down during his first mission and then survived six months in a German prisoner of war camp. One of 17,000 prisoners, he was freed by the Russian forces. By that time, he had lost 40 pounds.
Johansson spent 60 years talking about his experience, which he wrote down as a diary during his captivity on cigarette wrappers. He received many medals for his imprisonment, especially from the Czech Republic. He traveled internationally speaking to crowds of all ages, and spoke to Montville scout groups, church groups and in the Montville Township Public Schools.
He trained as an engineer and traveled the world for his occupation, as well.
He was a member of the Montville United Methodist Church where he was known for his wonderful singing.
He is survived by his son and daughter but predeceased by his son and wife.
“I’m not old, really,” he has been quoted as saying. “I’ve just been very young for a long time.”
To read profiles of Johansson’s experience, see:
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