Al Hills, whose fascination with flying led him to enlist in the Army Air Corps, where he served as a bombardier/navigator in the European theater until his plane was shot out from under him over Germany and he landed in a prisoner of war camp, died August 16, 2015, at the Maine Veterans’ Home in Scarborough, Maine. He was 93.
A dedicated member of the Rotary Club for more than 60 years, those who knew him said he embodied the Rotary motto, “Service above self.”
He was born in Newark, N.J., on June 25, 1922, the son of Herbert and Grace Hills.
During Al’s childhood, he lived in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Canada, and England, due to his father’s job as a retail store executive. He graduated from New Hampton Prep School in New Hampshire.
Al entered the armed services in 1942, and served in the Army Air Corps (later the United States Air Force). He was trained as a bombardier/navigator. On the way to buy a bicycle, he was rounded up to serve with a crew for a bombing run. His plane was shot down over Saarbrucken, Germany. He was forced to bail out at 20,000 feet, landed on a school roof, slid down and landed on the ground only to be knocked unconscious, and was then captured. He served over 14 months as a prisoner of war in a camp near the Polish border. In January 1945, he and more than 2,000 fellow POWs were marched toward Nuremberg by guards who were trying to outrun the Russians. They ended up marching them to Moosburg, where they were finally liberated. He was thankful he had good boots and a warm jacket. Al weighed 168 pounds before being captured, and when he finally was released, he weighed 90 pounds. He said many of his fellow prisoners dreamed of food; he dreamed of ice cream, and ate it every day when he returned home.
After returning home, Al owned and operated a retail store in Randolph for over 30 years. In 1984, Al and his family moved to Ocean Park, Maine, where Al and Josephine, and later their children, spent summers.
He is survived by his wife of over 72 years of marriage, Josephine (Jo) Anderson Hills, son Robert A. Hills of Ocean Park, Maine, and daughter Deborah A. Hills of Edgartown.
A memorial service will be held at First Parish Congregational Church, UCC of Saco, in September, date and time to be announced. Burial with full military honors will follow at Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Dennett, Craig and Pate, 365 Main Street, Saco, are in charge of the arrangements. Condolences may be posted online at dcpate.com.
For those wishing to make memorial contributions, please consider Maine Veterans Home, 290 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074, or the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.