One of the last Lincoln Brigade members marches on to muster at the Ebro River

John G. Hovan of Providence, RI died Thursday, March 27 at the age of 97 after a long illness. He was the husband of the late Mildred Hovan, his wife of 64 years.

Among many accomplishments in life, Mr. Hovan was a volunteer of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, an all-volunteer group that went to Spain during the Spanish Civil War to fight against the Hitler and Mussolini-backed forces of Gen. Franco. Among its members were Mississippi gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty, screenwriter Alvah Bessie (Objective Burma), composer Conlon Nancarrow, and novelist William Herrick.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade suffered over 30% casualties in the three years of war fighting the fascists in Spain.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade suffered over 30% casualties in the three years of war fighting the fascists in Spain.

According to his biography maintained by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives :
“A son of Czech immigrants, Mr. Hovan joined the 2,800 American volunteers fighting in Spain from 1937 until 1938 to defend the Spanish Republic from a fascist Coup led by General Franco.

Three years after his return from Spain, Mr. Hovan joined the Navy and participated in World War II in the Pacific [ as a member of the See Bees]. He settled in Rhode Island with his family and held different jobs. During the McCarthy red-scare hysteria, he was questioned in front of congress for his participation in the Spanish Civil War and as a consequence he lost his job, his house was firebombed and painted with swastikas.

One of the last surviving Americans who fought with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil war, John Hovan signed his Spanish Citizenship papers on Thursday, July 9, 2009.

In his later years he became a persuasive advocate for Elder Citizens Medical Affairs, appearing on local TV, advocating in the Rhode Island State House, and proudly serving a senior internship in Washington, DC.

This leaves Mr. Del Berg, 98, as the last known living US survivor of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

Mr. Hovan’s papers are maintained by the John Jay Library of Brown University.

Services will be private. Memorial donations may be made to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, 799 Broadway, Suite 341, New York, NY 10003-6827.

Mr. Hovan, salute.

Mr. Hovan, salute.

2 comments

  • Gracias por luchar por nosotros en una guerra criminal, gracias por el apoyo a los republicanos como mi abuelo y a la causa en la que él creía y que los demás paises quisieron ignorar.

  • Rest in Peace, Mr. Hovan.
    “A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.”
    ― Winston Churchill

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