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Former Blakesburg Mayor shares his experience as a prisoner of war

Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 9:24 PM CDT
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BLAKESBURG, Iowa (KYOU) - Harold johnson, born in Ottumwa, is a hero to many. He says his journey to bravery began around 1960 after graduating from the University of Louisville Kentucky and receiving a letter from President Nixon about being drafted.

“I got a letter, the president sends you greetings. So I got drafted. My wife was teaching school in Kentucky. We packed up and I brought her back to Iowa, then I joined the airforce.”

Leaving behind his wife and three children at the time ages 5, 3, and 1, Linda Johnson says it was a difficult transition but they had to keep going.

“Well, it was difficult but we didn’t have any choice really so we just kept going. I always believed he was alive and that kept us going too.”

Johnson recalls the day he was captured and says upon his second flight of the day, things took a violent turn once missiles were shot towards the tailpipe of the airplane and he was forced to jump out.

“I floated through the trees and started running on the ground trying to evade the Vietnamese for about 4 hours.”

Soon after he was captured, interrogated, beaten, and tortured for what he says was a very long time.

“I was there a total time of 2,135 days which equates to five years, 10 months, and 4 days.”

After his release, he says he came back home to Iowa and everyone in the area welcomed him back with open arms.

He later became Mayor of Blakesburg from the year 1995 until 2001.

Johnson, who will be turning 85 at the end of July says all his life’s experiences made a better man out of him, allowing him to understand more about himself.

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