Navyman Russell Johnson receives medals, awards from WWII service

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At a gathering Tuesday at his Warwick office, Congressman Jim Langevin presented Third Class Aviation Electronics Technician Russell J. Johnson with two medals and two awards for his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Johnson, a native Rhode Islander, was born on October 13, 1919 and just celebrated his 98th birthday. He worked as a trained machinist before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in June 1944. After the war he worked as a manufacturing manager for Sealol where, as can only happen in Rhode Island, Johnson recalls hiring Langevin’s grandfather. It was a point he mentioned as Johnson’s extended family gathered around the congressman’s desk for a photo. Also present for the occasion was Rhode Island Director of Veterans Affairs Kasim Yarn.

Johnson was stationed at Quonset Point and also served in Norfolk, Virginia. He was responsible for maintaining radar used by the U.S. Navy. His service medals and awards were not delivered prior to his retirement from the service in March 1946.

Members of the Johnson family contacted Langevin to request his assistance in issuing the service medals and awards. After corresponding with the National Personnel Records Center, Langevin had them issued and delivered to Johnson.

“I consider it one of my highest honors to assist our veterans who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we hold most dear,” said Langevin. He said we tend to take for granted that the United State is a powerful country and there was a time during World War II that there was tremendous anxiety over the outcome of the war.

“They put their lives on the line,” he said of those who fought in the war, “and they saved the world from uncertainty.”

Langevin presented Johnson with the World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign Medal, Honorable Discharge Button, and Honorable Service Lapel Pin Tuesday

Johnson thanked Langevin and said it was an honor to receive the medals.

“I was lucky to serve my country,” he said.

After his service, Johnson married Dorothea Champagne and had five children. He is now a grandfather of ten and has six great grandchildren.

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