GM3c Paul Frederick Johann,

Unknown Sailor

GM3c Paul Frederick Johann

Paul Frederick Johann was killed on his 22nd birthday in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

He was a gunner’s mate and petty officer third class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he died on Dec. 7, 1941.

Mr. Johann was born in 1919 in northeast Iowa in Alta Vista, a farm town of 333. He graduated from Alta Vista High School in 1939 and tried farming, a pursuit that made him miserable, his younger brother, Bob, recalled many years later. “He wanted to see the world and have some adventures.” So on Valentine’s Day 1940 he enlisted in the Navy.

The brothers, eight years apart in age, last saw one another just before Paul Frederick sailed for Hawaii. “He looked at me right in the eye and said, ‘Bob, you work hard on your studies and you make something of yourself. I really mean that.’ I’ve never forgotten that,” Bob told the editor of the New Hampton Tribune in 2015. “He made me promise I’d do it, and I did. I promised.”

Bob Johann served in the Navy at the end of World War II and then used the G.I. Bill to pay for college. He earned a master’s degree and became a school principal.

Their parents were Peter Johann, a German immigrant and tavern operator, and Malinda Johann, a homemaker.

A memorial service honored Mr. Johann in February 1942 at Zion Lutheran Church in Alta Vista. The church was filled to capacity.

VFW Post 4069 in Alta Vista was named in his honor.


Sources: New Hampton (Iowa) Tribune; The Globe Gazette of Mason City, Iowa; Census; Navy muster roll; U.S. headstone application for military veterans; Iowa application for WWII beneficiaries. 

This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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