St Louis News

Meet Pearl Harbor survivor and WWII IOWA crewman Freeman Johnson

We had a phenomenal and delightful visitor on Dec. 16, 2021. 101 year-old Freeman Johnson was a machinist’s mate first class aboard USS ST LOUIS during the Dec 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. A year or so later, he was assigned to Brooklyn Navy Yard and USS IOWA. He was with IOWA for her commissioning and the entirety of her WWII service.

This December, he returned to Pearl Harbor to be part of the 80th anniversary commemoration, but he wanted to do more. He knew IOWA was in Los Angeles. He hadn’t seen the ship since the end of the war, so he talked his daughter into arranging a visit to us as well.

We were thrilled to host him and over the moon to be able to take this remarkably-agile centenarian all the way to his old duty station: the pumps at the bottom of Boiler Room #4.

He was full of fascinating stories and details about the war we’d never heard – including the unique location from which he observed the signing of the instrument of surrender in Tokyo Bay on Sept. 2, 1945, what it was like being on the second ship to ever have radar, and an amusing anecdote about pilots using balls to practice targeting submarines.

Join us for an inspiring and humorous journey with Freeman that includes glimpses of a boiler room rarely seen by the public.

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Want to
– Support the ship?
– Come aboard for a tour?
– Volunteer with us?
– Join or contribute to our veterans programming?

You can also
– Contribute to our transition to become the National Museum of the Surface Navy
– Become a Plank Owner for the national museum (it’s free!)

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