John was born in the township of New Hope, Wisconsin, on August 5, 1922, son of the late Johan and Mabel (Ellingson) Hotvedt. He married Audrey Larson on September 24, 1944 in Hingham, MA. Audrey preceded him in death on June 6, 2009. John served in the US Navy retiring at the rank of Captain. He enlisted in the Navy early in WWII and took flight training in Pensacola, FL in order to serve as a carrier-based fighter pilot. Among his many missions, John performed photo reconnaissance over Japan nearing the end of WWII for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was aboard the USS Saratoga at Iwo Jima when she was badly damaged by multiple kamikazes and torpedoes. Unable to take off from the damaged deck he, along with the other pilots, served as nurses for the many injured men as the Saratoga worked her way back to the United States. He then flew from the USS Lexington until the end of WWII, when he was proud to fly security over the USS Missouri protecting those present for the signing of the peace agreement that ended the war. He took aerial photographs of this historic day. In the Korean conflict, he trained in jet planes and performed extensive photo reconnaissance from aboard the USS Boxer. Following the Korean conflict, he served as a test pilot, in flight training, and many other functions through the years until his retirement in 1967. Among the many he trained to fly, John was proud to have checked out Neil Armstrong on his first solo jet flight. John was a highly decorated veteran, earning the Navy Air Medal multiple times and service awards for WWII, Korea and the Viet Nam War. After retiring from the Navy, he opened a real estate office in Iola, WI. He enjoyed gardening, fishing, and hunting. He was a charter member of the Iola Musky Club and was considered a “Musky Master,” working as a guide for fishermen on the Chippewa and Flambeau flowages. For John, the most important things in life were his love for his wife and children and his deep faith. He was a lifelong member of North New Hope Church in Amherst Junction, WI.
He is survived by his children: Louise (Stephen) Lehrer, of New Hope; Christine (Ray) Teurfs, of Guerneville, CA; Jim (Sandy) Hotvedt, of New Hope; Mary (Jeff) McMurray, Aransas Pass, TX, and a sister, Harriet Torkelson, of Merrill. John is further survived by grandchildren: John (Leslie) Hotvedt, Cole (Mary Beth) Smith, Maren (David) Cardinal and Gage Mott; great-grandchildren: Jenna, Marius, Hailey, Johan and Lincoln. He was preceded in death by a granddaughter, Jessica Smith and sisters, Lila Hotvedt and Mary Ann Garbrecht.
Funeral services will be held at North New Hope Lutheran Church, 845 County Road T, Amherst Junction, at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 with Reverend Michael Peuse officiating. A visitation will be held on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. until the time of service at the church. Interment will be in North New Hope Lutheran Cemetery, Town of New Hope, Wisconsin. Memorials may be given to the North New Hope Lutheran Church or to the American Legion fund for adding names to the Iola Veterans Memorial at the Veterans Memorial Park. Register Book and online condolences may be sent by visiting www.voiefuneralhome.com