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Golden Living veterans honored
February 2013Kevin McCowan, executive director of Golden Living Center in Stanford, was among the veterans honored Feb. 28 at Golden Living. He shook hands with fellow veterans after a pinning ceremony led by Sharon Martin of Heritage Hospice. Martin presented McCowan and 13 veterans at the facility with We Honor Veterans pins and thanked them for their service. McCowan served in the Marines from 1988 to 1996.
Other veterans participating in the ceremony included:
Gerald McIntosh, who served in the Army from 1962 to 1966 when he was stationed in Vietnam and Germany.
Albert A. Johnson, age 92, a World War II veteran who served in the Army from 1941 to 1945 in the Pacific Theater. He earned two Purple Hearts and one Silver Star, said his wife, Isabel.
Eugene Smith, who served in the Army from 1961 to 1974; Robert Gooch, who served in the Army during the Korean War.
John Merrill, who served in the Marines from 1962 to 1982, serving in both the Vietnam and Gulf wars.
Click to see photos
World War II veteran honored
February 2013Lindburgh Moore, a Korean War Army veteran, received a We Honor Veterans pin from Heritage Hospice social worker LaDeanna Yocum in honor of his service.
Click to watch video
Korean War veteran receives medals on MLK Day
January 2013Albert Taylor, a Korean War veteran, received a big surprise on Martin Luther King Day when Sharon Martin, Heritage Hospice community and provider liaison, presented him with medals he had never received for his service.
The medals were: Combat Infantry Badge; World War II Army of Occupation Service Medal, which also is awarded to those serving in Korea; and Army Good Conduct Medal; Korean Service Medal; National Defense Service Medal; and United Nations Korean Service Medal.
The medals were given to Taylor, who lives in Danville, at a MLK ceremony at First Missionary Baptist Church in Stanford, where he is a deacon. Taylor served 14 months in Korea, split into two, seven-month tours of duty. Taylor’s military legacy is continuing. He has a grandson, who is a pilot and served in the Gulf War, and a great-grandson who is serving in the Navy.
“They all said they wanted to be like me,” Taylor said after receiving his medals.
Martin spoke about Heritage Hospice’s role in outreach to veterans and to the African-American community. She noted that she often has been asked why she is making it her project to make sure veterans and African-Americans know about hospice services.
“I’ll just use (Dr. King’s) words, ‘The time is always right to do the right thing.’ Please help me to help others so they don’t have to do it alone.”
She spoke about the volunteer program in which veteran patients are matched with veteran volunteers and noted that there is a great need in Lincoln County for veteran volunteers for this program.
Taylor appreciates the family and friends who helped him make it through his service time. Click to watch video
1,342 register at 2012 Veterans Appreciation Day
November 2012Despite a downpour of rain, Heritage Hospice Inc.'s fifth annual Veterans Appreciation Day was a great success. The event continues to grow with 1,342 veterans attending at the Danville National Guard Armory.
This number included 200 veterans attending for the first time.
Carlos Stull of Kings Mountain, age 97, once again was honored as the oldest veteran attending.
The event has grown every year. In 2011, the event had 1,286 veterans register including 68 veterans who had never attended.
World War II veterans were asked to come forward and there were 56 attending. They all received a cap and a $10 gift certificate to Cracker Barrel.
Barbecue was added to this year's menu and 500 sandwiches were served. The amount of fish served was doubled from last year. Members of Masonic lodges Franklin No. 28 F&AM, Perryville 209, Lancaster No. 104 and Mercer No. 777 cook the fish and prepare the barbecue and items.
Indian Hill Christian Church was joined in providing desserts by Danville Church of God, Crossroads Christian Church, West End Church of Christ, The Faith Church and Redemption Road.
The students at Danville Christian Academy served the food with the assistance of community leaders.
Boyle County Middle School student council members and Bate Middle School students also are involved. Boyle students collected napkins and put together all of the packages with condiments and napkins. Boyle and Bate students weathered the cold and rain to enthusiastically welcome the veterans with cheers and signs.
Door prizes are a big part of the event and we thank everyone who contributed.
Anyone who would like to donate door prizes or financially support this tax-deductible event can mail items to: Atten: Veterans Appreciation Day Event, Heritage Hospice, Inc., P.O. Box 1213, Danville, Ky. 40423, bring them to the office at 120 Enterprise Drive in Danville, or call the hospice office at (859) 236-2425.
Click here to see photos
Lancaster WWII veteran shares story with staff
September 2012With 90 years under his belt, Walter Arnold of Lancaster, has gained a lot of perspective on the war he entered 70 years ago.
The World War II Army sergeant, who commanded a 10-man squad as part of the 329th Anti-Tank Company, returned in 1999 to places where he served as a young man. Through the Internet, he also shared memories and reconnected with fellow members of the 83rd division. They were lucky enough to survive the bullets whizzing by their heads during 11 solid months of combat that started on the beaches of Normandy on June 23, 1944, and continued through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
The huge loss of American lives hit home with Arnold when he returned to the battlegrounds.
He visited all 14 cemeteries where Americans are buried, including one containing 9,000 Americans. Family members accompanying him included his 16-year-old grandson. He tried to help his grandson relate to the situation. “David, the majority of the people buried here are just a little older than you are today,” he told him.
Arnold received a list of 551 people in his division who were buried there from that one battle.
In speaking to staff at Heritage Hospice, the Bryantsville native who served as a Methodist minister for 60 years, was asked how he rationalized the things he experienced.
“I don’t even attempt to. That’s God’s business,’” said Arnold, a slender man who said that he never even talked about his years in the service until questioned by his two sons who was watching TV coverage of the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
His wife of 66 years, Jean, joined him when he spoke at Heritage Hospice.
Arnold spoke as part of the staff’s participation in the We Honor Veterans program, which aims to help staff learn about veterans and provide better end-of-life care.
Arnold did not disappoint in offering valuable advice.
“I hope I said a little something here today that will kindly help you realize what some of these people have gone through.” Arnold paused for emphasis, and continued. “They’ve gone through hell. To see their buddies killed. To try to administer to them — try to help them — is something you never get over. So maybe you will be just a little kinder after hearing something I have said.”
Learning about veterans is important for hospice staff as veterans represent 25 percent of dying Americans.
Keeping in touch with former comrades has been important to Arnold, but he has outlived several of his fellow soldiers. He recently learned that one of his closest friends from the war had died. He lived in Florida.
“Not a year passed that we didn’t talk since World War II.”
Arnold’s patriotic endeavor was shared with four brothers and a brother-in-law. Arnold joked with staff that he led the pack of those brothers as the first boy after his parents’ fourth daughter.
“I came along. (My mother) liked me so well, she had five other boys.”
As for his father, the anguish of seeing all his sons march off to war was too much stress. “It was more than my dad could take. He had a heart attack.”
All the Arnold boys returned safely, but the same story was not true for Arnold’s brother-in-law, Homer Spires. After two weeks of marriage to Arnold’s sister, Spires left for war and was killed after his plane was shot down.
During World War II, families with servicemen displayed papers in their windows with stars on them, one for each family member serving. Arnold’s mother hung a paper decorated with four blue stars for him and his brothers serving and one yellow star for the son-in-law she lost. Arnold notes that more than 16 people in his family joined the military and a grandson now is a Marine at Camp Lejeune.
Arnold entered the war in 1942 after eight months of training at Camp Atterbury in Indiana. Arnold went to Camp Breckinridge and on to New York. In 1944, he went to Liverpool, England.
“We crossed the ocean on the largest convoy that ever went across the Atlantic Ocean,” he noted.
Their mission was to relieve the 101st Airborne, which had jumped on D-Day. Arriving under the cover of night was their strategy and they revealed themselves as Americans rather than Germans by carrying a metal object that made a clicking noise.
Arnold described it as similar to the toys found in the popcorn snack, Cracker Jack.
“They landed at night. They couldn’t tell whether they were Americans or Germans so they communicated with that little clicker.”
The troops were inland seven miles when Arnold’s division arrived to relieve them. The troops were advised of their options.
“You can retreat if you want to, but you can only go seven miles backwards,” they were told.
Arnold recalled spending six weeks in the hedgerows.
“I don’t know how the French did this, but they made mounds of dirt, about 3 feet tall, and they put hedges on top of them. You could hardly get through them.”
Arnold mourned his fallen comrades during his service. He shared one story of a man in his squad who wanted the job of gunner. His request was obliged and at the Battle of the Bulge, a battle in the winter months of December 1944 and January 1945 and the bloodiest of the war, the gunner was hit the first day and lost both legs above the knee.
Arnold also had close calls.
He credits his fellow soldier George Boheler, who he reconnected with through the Internet, with saving his life. Arnold was in a room by himself. A German soldier was trying to get in and Boheler shot and killed him within 5 feet of Arnold.
Another narrow escape occurred when Arnold was crossing the Elbe River in Germany in April 1945. As he was unloading his truck and gun onto land, his truck was bombed. He ponders why they allowed him to reach land.
“I’ll never know to this day why they didn’t shoot me out of the water.”
When he got out and drove up to the street, he felt the first bullet graze by his head.
“You talk about a fellow that could run fast. I got out of his way. He didn’t get a second shot at me.”
Arnold tells the story modestly, but he received The Bronze Star for his quick action.
The commendation for the medal said, “While Sergeant Arnold was putting his 57mm gun into position to cover an open field near Walternienburg, when an enemy Mark VI tank opened fire and demolished his truck. Sergeant Arnold and another enlisted man, with disregard for their personal safety, immediately manned the gun and engaged the enemy tank hitting it several times and causing it to withdraw. He again manned the gun when they were attacked a short time later by enemy infantry and high velocity guns but his accurate fire pinned them down until friendly artillery was brought to bear on them. Sergeant Arnold's initiative, quick thinking and heroic devotion to duty merit great praise and are in keeping with the finest military traditions.”
Arnold’s artifacts shown to staff included an orange flyer sent out by Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to Germans advising them they could surrender. If they surrendered and brought the paper with them, they would be safe.
Arnold may not show outward damage from his service, but he does suffer a hearing loss from firing a 57 mm anti-tank gun and other explosions. His gun shot a bullet weighing 6 pounds and capable of traveling at 330 feet in a second Arnold says he receives fine care at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Lexington where he gets his hearing aids and other care.
The end of the war was a cause for celebration. After years of living with the rations, he really indulged when those days ended.
“When I was discharged and went to Post Exchange. I bought all the candy. All the chewing gum I could get. Do you know who got it? I gave every bit of it to her. I didn’t even give my mother one piece. That shows what kind of love I had,” he says casting a smile at Jean.
A rare souvenir Arnold showed was a leather belt for no bigger than a teen-age boy’s waist. It had belonged to a German soldier.
“Hitler really got excited near the end. He started taking in young boys — 12, 13 and 14 years old. This shows you how big some of them were.”
Arnold considers his enlistment during the Korean War, which was spent at Fort Knox, as God’s time to get his attention.
When he returned home, he never went back to the farm. He started preaching in a small chapel in Garrard County. He studied at Sue Bennett Junior College in London for two years before completing his degree at Eastern Kentucky University.
He still has two living sisters, one 97 and one 91. A younger brother is on the verge of 90.
“I’m hoping he can live all next year so all four of us can be in our 90s.”
Arnold had put all his service behind him. He and his brothers worked side by side on the farm and never discussed it.
“My brothers and I never talked about it. For 50 years I never did anything about it.”
When his sons started asking questions, Arnold began to share his story.
One of his sons, Ricky, teaches in Garrard schools. His other son, Bill, is a professor at Asbury Seminary.
Arnold wrote his memories and gave all the information Bill to use on a website. Click here to see website
When they posted the information online, he was able to connect with Boheler. Boheler’s granddaughter saw the website and contacted them for her grandfather. They had a reunion in northern Kentucky.
Jean said when she attended the reunion she learned a lot as the two swapped memories.
“I think that it is important to hear their stories because many of them haven’t told it.”
Arnold’s efforts as a soldier were rewarded. One of the medals he received was the European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal with five stars, one for each battle.
“Those are battle stars. It doesn’t mean you had a little scrimmage. Like the Battle of the Hedgerows, that was six weeks. That’s one star.”
Arnold says today’s soldiers face hard circumstances.
“We knew who the enemy was. We knew where they were. We knew how we going to find them. … But today I say they are a bunch of cowards. They won’t come out and fight. They get a bomb around them and go out and bomb a car. They blow a bunch of people up and destroy them.”
Arnold talked about how soldiers become battle hard, which despite serving in a different type of war, is a constant. Arnold said he came across this situation when he was serving, but he convinced the soldier to capture and not kill the enemy.
“I called to him and told him to come out. I told him to come out in a hurry. This boy didn’t like what he was doing. He reached for his hand grenade and he was going to pull it. I said, ‘Whoa, don’t do that. Give the man a chance.’”
Dr. Colin Raitiere, Heritage Hospice’s medical director, thanked Arnold for his service. Raitiere said his mother was living in Paris, France, and felt like she owed her survival to the American soldiers.
“They felt like if it wasn’t for the sacrifice of the American soldiers they would not be alive and I would not have been born.”
Arnold said he felt the love for Americans when he visited the cemeteries overseas. When he and his brothers, Cecil and A.T., nephews and a son were visiting a cemetery outside Luxemburg a man had been following them that day and wanted to meet the veterans.
“He said I want to tell you something. He says, ‘What I am, what I hope to be, what I ever become, I owe it to you boys.”
Nurse tells staff of service during
Vietnam and Gulf War
Peggy Butler’s military experience covers a lot of ground including helping build a hospital in the desert during the Gulf War. A nurse with 21 years of military experience, the Danville woman first worked in a hospital near San Francisco where snipers fired on wounded Vietnam soldiers being moved from one hospital building to another.
Butler, who retired after spending 25 years teaching nursing students at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, recently shared some of perspective on her Navy and Navy Reserves career that spanned 1967 to 1999.
Butler witnessed the public’s poor treatment of soldiers during the Vietnam Era.
“A lot of anger was funneled toward military personnel rather than the politicians who made the policy,” Butler says as she spoke to Heritage Hospice staff about her military experience as part of the staff’s We Honor Veterans training.
We Honor Veterans is a national hospice program that encourages staff to learn more about veterans to provide better end-of-life care.
An “Air Force brat,” Butler joined the service at age 21 as a nod of respect to her dad, who was an Air Force veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. The Navy was her preference. One reason was she feared the remote locations assigned to those serving in her father’s chosen branch.
“Not the Air Force because I had visited my father in Grand Forks, N.D., and I decided if there was any remote chance that I would ever be sent to Grand Forks, N.D., that was not going to be it.”
She was sent to Oakland Naval Hospital, across the bay from San Francisco. Before WWII, the grounds had been a country club with a golf course. Despite its rolling green hills and beautiful trappings, the work within was grim. It was the West Coast center for amputees, psychiatry, neurosurgery and cardiology. Many arrived after the TET offensive, which was when the Viet Cong broke a two-day cease fire agreement during a holiday and began an intense wave of attacks.
“We would receive hundreds of patients a day from Vietnam for various reasons.”
Butler says every day she spent in neurosurgery intensive care was a tough learning curve in the world of nursing.
“It was like going to grad school. Because they had gunshot wounds to the head. There was lots of severe spinal cord trauma, brain tumors. Lots and lots of surgical procedures.”
The public sentiment in that area was very anti-war. Butler recalls snipers firing at amputee patients as they crossed the compound.
“There would be people situated on the hill across the freeway with high-powered rifles that would fire on the amputees as they tried to make their way through the hospital compound. That’s how bad the feeling was at least in the Bay Area during that time.”
Patients proved challenging as they suffered mentally, too. Patients frequently acted out in inappropriate ways, Butler says.
“In many ways they seemed to still be (in Vietnam).”
She remembered some humorous elements, too. A patient in a full-body cast once was caught throwing water balloons out the window.
“It was like having injured Cub Scouts because they were very child-like in their behaviors.”
During Butler’s time there, the old rambling hospital closed and moved its patients to a 10-story modern facility.
Butler was at a very impressionable age and says she does suffer PTSD.
“I still remember those guys’ faces. When I say guys, I mean 17-, 18- and 19-year-old kids. They were younger than me at age 21. They seemed like my siblings.”
Butler found a creative outlet for the emotions she felt during this conflicted time. She wrote some of her memories which were read during the dedication of the Vietnam War Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Butler ended her active duty after two years and later continued her military work in the Naval Reserves.
While on drill with the Reserves, she started to think about being active in the military again after participating in a presentation about how Saddam Hussein used chemical warfare on the Kurds. Soon, she was serving in 1991 right before the Gulf War and to her surprise received the assignment of building a hospital in the desert.
She was to help other Navy medical personnel build a Fleet hospital, a tent hospital that would support the Fleet Marine force.
“I always had visions of myself being this glamorous Navy nurse on board a ship. I was out there with the Marines humping and bumping in the sand. That’s not really what I had in mind when I signed up.”
She has a before and after photo of the sandy area where they dumped her off the truck in Saudi Arabia and told her to build the hospital.
“I almost started crying.”
She had an extra challenge thrown her way when she learned what time of day she was expected to do her part.
“Guess who drew a shift to build a hospital at night?”
Butler was pretty impressed when her unit pulled off the feat of erecting a 500-bed hospital in nine days. It measured a quarter of a mile in length.
Getting from end of the hospital to the other from the exterior was challenging.
“We were walking in really deep sand in really heavy shoes all the time. I can recommend that as a weight-loss program.”
The tents for the medical crew were next to the hospital. They had their own village there, but she worried about living in this area with only canvas walls for protection. She followed the drill of slapping on her gas mask during the sounding of many alarms, and is grateful that the closest Scud missile was 2 ½ miles away.
This field hospital was staffed by some of the physicians who were considered “older and wiser.”
When Marines called to say they were bringing in wounded soldiers on the helicopters and they would say, “Take them to the old men.”
“Some of them were very renowned physicians. A lot of them had been through the Vietnam era.”
Medical illnesses brought more soldiers into the hospital than combat wounds. Sometimes they saw soldiers injured from accidents while using heavy equipment. They saw a lot of burn victims as the oil fields were set on fire during the war.
Again, Butler witnessed behavior she would expect from mischievous Cub Scouts. The “docs” made a three-hole golf course complete with water hazards. Managing to have a little fun is a coping mechanism, but Butler was surprised at the inventiveness.
“I can’t believe they brought their golf clubs,” she says.
Today’s military has changed so that the Naval Reserves would not have been
staffing an active hospital and the field hospitals are usually 125 beds rather than the enormous one where she worked.
In her personal life, Butler chose to marry a soldier. She met her husband, Jim Butler, on a blind date in Danville and they married in 1976. Their son, Warren Butler, served six years in the Navy and now works with the UPS air division.
Although Butler was willing to share her thoughts about serving in the military, her father was the opposite. He never talked about his World War II experiences but she knew that he crash landed three times.
When Butler thinks about the effects her service has on her mental well-being, she says it’s hard to see young soldiers today going through the same situation as the ones she saw serving in Vietnam.
She cannot forget the young soldiers wounded in Vietnam, but she tries to cope with knowing she can’t change history.
“I remember those guys. I sometimes dream about them. Part of it is, you just hike up your big girl britches and you go on.”
Veteran doctor honored
Dr. Barry Purdom is the type of physician who goes out to the waiting room to escort his patients to the examining room. Purdom, who practices internal medicine with St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington, claims his motivation is just so he can control the pace at which he sees patients. But it’s obvious that Purdom does it to show how much he cares.
The likeable doctor has ties with Heritage Hospice’s service area. He grew up in Hustonville and graduated from Hustonville High School in 1960 where his father, Cecil, was principal from 1950 to 1978 and his mother, Ruth, was a home economics teacher.
A pen and ink drawing of the old school hangs in Purdom’s office in Building B at St. Joseph office park off Harrodsburg Road.
After his high school graduation, he earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Kentucky in 1964 and in 1968 was a member of the fourth graduating class at the UK School of Medicine.
He completed his residency in Memphis, Tenn., and then served two years in the Army in Alaska.
Purdom, who is ready with a smile, says he didn’t have much choice about whether he would serve since it was during the Vietnam War.
“The only choice was did I want to go as an infantryman or doctor.”
Purdom recently was honored for his military service. Sharon Martin, Heritage Hospice’s provider liaison, presented him with a We Honor Veterans pin at his Lexington office. He also received a certificate thanking him for his service.
After the service, he returned to Lexington and it has been home ever since.
When asked if any of his children followed in his footsteps, Purdom revealed that all of his family is in the medical field. His wife, Judy, is a nurse. Son David is a general surgeon in Vincennes, Ind.; Matt is a pathologist at UK; and Michelle is a dietitian at Central Baptist Hospital.
When asked about his thoughts about hospice care, Purdom says hospice plays an important role. “There is so much inappropriate end-of-life care and if not for hospice, it would be so much worse. … It avoids a lot of suffering.”
Level II achieved in We Honor Veterans program
Staff has been busy learning how to provide better end-of-life care to veterans and in doing so has completed the requirements for earning Level 2 status in the We Honor Veterans program. There are a total of four levels in the national program. Heritage Hospiceis one of nine Kentucky hospices enrolled in the program and among 1,175 community hospices working on completing requirements to better serve veterans.
One of the main ways Heritage Hospice staff has been increasing its knowledge is to invite speakers to discuss their service. Staff member, Victoria Scarborough, gave a presentation about the World War II service of her 95-year-old father, Walter Juteau, who was at the Battle of Iwo Jima, and her late mother, Nina Juteau, who worked at the Pentagon.
Another speaker was retired Air Force Brigadier Gen. Howard Hunt III, who discussed stresses today’s soldiers face, such as being away from family. Hunt, who served 1974 to 2008, spoke about treatment of those who served in Vietnam and how soldiers who fought in Korea regard their service.
Emily Toadvine, community relations coordinator, has visited Veteran Service Organizations to discuss the program. She has met with members of American Legion Post 301 in Perryville and the American Legion Post 18 in Stanford. She attended the Veterans of Foreign Wars District 10 meeting. District 10 includes posts in Boyle and Mercer but encompasses 10 counties. She emphasized aspects of the program including the desire to pair veteran volunteers with veteran patients.
Heritage Hospice, Inc. and a planning committee of 12 hosted the fourth annual Veterans Appreciation Day at the National Guard Armory in Danville. The event attracted 1,286 veterans.
Another part of the program is to work more closely with Veteran Administration Medical Center staff. In this area, Anita Floyd, a 19-year employee at Thomson-Hood Veterans Center, talked with staff about care of veterans there and provided lots of information to staff about benefits in such areas as burials.
Another part of improving care for veterans is to complete a military checklist for every veteran admitted to hospice. It determines such important information as whether the veteran is receiving military benefits.
The We Honor Veterans program began in September 2010 as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization recognized that one in four dying Americans are veterans and set out to better serve those who have served their country.
Veterans Appreciation Day attracts 1,300
November 18, 2011
Above, Carlton Stull of Kings Mountain, left, and Walter Juteau of Danvile, right, were honored at the Veterans Appreciation Day as the two oldest veterans attending. Stull is 96 and Juteau is 95. They posed by 6th District Rep. Ben Chandler, who spoke at the event and mingled with the veterans.
Heritage Hospice Inc. held its fourth annual Veterans Appreciation Day luncheon on Nov. 11 at the National Guard Armory in Danville. This year's event attracted almost 1,300 veterans, including 67 new ones.
World War II veterans were asked to come to the front and receive an embroidered hat and a group of 38 were attending at that time.
Sally Bustle, a Danville policeman and veteran, sang the national anthem. Gen. Howard Hunt III spoke as did U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler.
Honoring our area’s veterans requires a budget of about $5,500. Other significant numbers are: 220 pounds of fish served; 150 door prizes given; 67 volunteers; and 150 sponsors who through their generous contributions make the event possible. In addition to the members of the Masonic lodges Franklin No. 28 F&AM, Lancaster No. 104 and Mercer No. 777 who cook the fish, the ladies at Indian Hill Christian Church contribute the tasty desserts. The students at Danville Christian Academy serve the food with the assistance of community leaders.
The planning committee looks forward to the challenge of honoring veterans in 2012 when Veterans Day will be celebrated on Nov. 12.
Anyone who would like to donate to this tax-deductible event in 2012 can mail a check: Atten: Veterans Appreciation Day Event, Heritage Hospice,Inc., P.O. Box 1213, Danville, Ky. 40423.
Several veterans shared their stories with John Robinson on video and we hope to share those with you soon. Videos from the 2010 Veterans Day luncheon are viewable below.
Heritage Hospice is working with a campaign conducted by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization called We Honor Veterans. Hospice staff is learning how to better serve veterans through compassionate listening and grateful acknowledgement of all that veterans have done.
Click here to see more photos
Air Force pilot was born on Veterans Day
Richard Dunn, who spent 23 years as an Air Force pilot and earned the rank of major, knew he wanted to fly when he was a boy.
He was in fourth-grade and watching a World War II movie, “Wake Island,” in which the Marines try to keep the Japanese Navy from capturing their island base.
“The Japanese were pounding the hell out of us,” recalls Dunn as he discusses his career at his Danville condo. “One airplane was still flying. It was a battle plane. The pilot asked the plane be loaded with bombs. They said, ‘You’ll never get it off the ground.’ The pilot crashed it in to the Japanese Navy ship.”
At this climatic moment in the film, Dunn realized flying was his life calling.
“I said, ‘I’m going to be a fighter pilot,’” recalls Dunn, who has racked up close to 15,000 hours of flying time in his career.
With Veteran’s Day as a birthday, it seems Dunn was destined to be a military man. His father, Marion Homer Dunn served in the Army in World War I. Dunn laughs at the joke his father played on him when they lived in Covington and his father took him to a Veterans Day parade on his 5th or 6th birthday.
“My father told me the parade was all for my birthday.”
Another early connection Dunn had with the military was when he was in high school and played trumpet for the American Legion’s Honor Guard. As an Air Force cadet, he also played in a band, which he says was a strategic move.
“It got me out of all the stand-by and inspections on Saturday because we had to get ready for the parade,” says Dunn, who often smiles as he reflects on his childhood and career.
Dunn, who served 1953 to 1975, waited until he had completed a couple of years of college and then enlisted.
His wife, Martha, says Dunn’s mother tried to play the stoic as she watched her son board a train in Stanford to go to Louisville and enlist.
“She said she wasn’t going to shed a tear. Then she went home and fell into bed crying her heart out.”
Dunn’s enlistment included a year in Vietnam where he worked as a forward air controller, directing air strikes. He marked the target for the fighter planes.
“I’m not sure they use forward air controller anymore because they do all the bombing by satellite.”
A room in his condo is decorated with models of planes he has flown and honors he has received including a Bronze Star.
Dunn, who has severe COPD and is a Heritage Hospice patient, has three pairs of wings. He received first set of wings in 1955 when he became a navigator. After attending electronic warfare school, he received another set of wings. After seven years and 1,500 hours of flying, he received a set of wings with star on top. After 15 years and 3,000 hours, he received a set of wings with a wreath around the star. He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross.
One photo shows him in the smaller plane he flew in Vietnam and another photo is of a T29 Convair that holds 40 people. He flew visiting dignitaries in that plane from 1966 to 1970.
Dunn decided to take advantage of the military’s Bootstrap program, which gave him time away from the Air Force while he earned a bachelor’s degree. He later earned a master’s degree at Baylor University. His thesis was about the GI Bill of Rights, which he credits as one of the United States’ government’s most strategic moves.
“It was one of the best investments our country ever made if you consider what they spent on it and what they got back.
It gave us thousands of doctors and lawyers and engineers. There are millions of people who went to school who never would have considered it. It started the economic boon and what this country has turned into since World War II.”
After earning his master’s degree, Dunn says his career took a different turn.
“Then they gave me the privilege of flying a large, steel desk.”
The military tradition has continued in the Dunn family. The Dunns have two sons, Michael and Richard, and Michael served four years in the Marines. Dunn’s mother, Shirley Dunn, an avid Lincoln County historian who published books of her research, also was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
After Dunn retired from the military, he continued to fly. He flew for Allegheny Commuter in Terre Haute, Ind. Then he went to Denver and flew cargo planes for a year. While Dunn was working with Allegheny, he and his wife won a trip to Limerick, Ireland, the home of his mother’s ancestors. They thought it was interesting that the paternal family name had ties there.
“The Dunns own that whole town,” says Dunn, who retired to Danville, near he and his wife’s hometown of Stanford, in 1992.
Videos from 2010 Veterans Appreciation Day
About 13 of the veterans shared their stories with videographer John Robinson at the 2010 event. Below are links to their videos.
World War II Navy veteran Sam McCorkle shares a story of invading Okinawa. Click here to watch McCorkle.
Korean War veteran Sgt. Randy Hawkins shares his stories of the service. Click here to watch Hawkins.
World War II Army veteran Russell Ray shares his stories of the service. Click here to watch Ray.
Vietnam Navy veteran Robert Bishop shares his stories. Click here to watch Bishop.
Army Scout John Bowlling shares his stories of the service. Click here to watch Bowling.
Vietnam Army veteran Tommy McGirr talks about his service. Click here to watch McGirr.
World War II veteran George Garrison was drafted before Pearl Harbor. He is a member of the Honor Guard of American Legion Post 18. Click here to watch Garrison.
Frank Folger is a World War II and Korean War veteran. Click here to watch Folger.
Kittie Thomas served with the Coast Guard. She did law enforcement in the Bahamas. She is a member of the Honor Guard of American Legion Post 18. Click here to watch Thomas.
Howard Hunt III was a brigadier general who served in the Air Force and the Kentucky Air National Guard from 1974 until 2008. Click here to watch Hunt.
Bobby Hinkle was in the Navy 1970 to 1971. Click here to watch Hinkle.
Richard Caldwell was in the Marines from 1978 to 1981. He works with the Marine Corps League. Click here to watch Caldwell.
Robert H. Mitchell earned a Bronze Star while serving in the Army 1944 to 1946. Click here to watch Mitchell.
All aboard the Honor Flight
By VICTORIA SCARBOROUGH
Heritage Hospice Compliance Officer
What follows is my attempt to do at least some justice to what was a very memorable experience for Dad and me as we participated in an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. so that he could tour the memorials dedicated to World War II and the Marines (Iwo Jima).
We flew as part of the Honor Flight Bluegrass program. On our flight were 120 WWII veterans and 50 guardians to accompany and assist the veterans. There was at least one WAC on this flight. I believe this was the first time the Bluegrass Chapter had had a woman veteran on an Honor Flight. Some of the WWII veterans had also served in the Korean conflict so included in the tour was the Korean War Memorial.
We arrived at the Louisville airport at 6:15 a.m. where Dad was issued his guest package. It contained his Honor Flight Bluegrass T-shirt (gray with the Flying Pegasus Honor Flight Bluegrass logo), a red lanyard with his ID badge with his name and boarding pass, his 27-exposure disposable camera and a pin for his hat with the Flying Pegasus logo, which he wanted on his collar.
On the back of Dad’s T-shirt was printed: “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.” Previously, Dad had wanted to go to Walmart and buy a khaki “uniform” consisting of khaki pants and a two-pocket shirt. So over this went the gray T-shirt.
Every veteran was also wearing a cap to identify his branch of the service. Dad’s whole outfit was topped off by his red USMC hat.
I also received a guest package containing a red lanyard/ID and a blue T-shirt with the identical logo. The back of mine identified me as a “guardian” and contained the quote by Will Rogers: “We can’t all be heroes. Some of us get to stand on the curb and clap as they go by.”
While we waited to board the plane, Dad was interviewed by a TV reporter from a Lexington, KY, station who was making the trip with us. It seemed apparent that Dad was the oldest veteran making the flight. I’m not sure how the interview went, given that Dad doesn’t always make perfect sense, but he was tickled to be asked.
Our IDs/names had already been cleared by Homeland Security and special VIP security had been arranged for us. We had only to show our photo IDs to pass through and board the plane. I had thought this might be a bit of a problem for Dad as, at 95, his last driver’s license had been issued in 2003 and showed a much younger face. But, the officer in charge just saluted Dad and called him “Marine,” and waved him through.
At about 8 a.m., we boarded a 737 jet chartered for our flight from Miami Air. On each of our seats was a headrest cover with the Flying Pegasus logo. The day was absolutely gorgeous, sunny and cloudless with temperatures in D.C. forecast to be in the mid- to upper-60s. Neither Dad nor I am a particularly good flyer but we both managed the smooth flight to Baltimore without incident. He even managed to eat some of the in-flight breakfast!
As we taxied to our gate at the Baltimore airport, we received an official ”Welcome to Washington” which consisted of two fire trucks, one on either side of our jet spraying us with a deluge of water! Inside the airport, we were met by members of the Maryland Honor Flight chapter. They applauded the veterans as we deplaned, shaking their hands and thanking them for their service.
As we made our way to the final exit, an honor guard of approximately 20 service men and women were standing with flags to shake hands with the veterans. They too said, “Thank you for your service” to the veterans as they passed.
We boarded four large, comfortable tour buses for the trip into D.C. Before departing, an admiral spoke to us, commending and expressing gratitude to the veterans for their service. He reminded us of how close the world came to chaos during the ’40s and of how the United States came together to meet the challenge at that time. He reminded the veterans that they are the Greatest Generation.
As our convoy of buses proceeded into D.C., we were led the whole way by an escort from Rolling Thunder: two riders on a motorcycle with two U.S. flags mounted on it. During the 35-minute ride into D.C., we were shown a very interesting video about the WWII Memorial which incorporated a lot of history of the war. Our Rolling Thunder escort led us into the heart of D.C, past the Washington Monument, to the intersection where we turned on Independence Avenue to head toward the WWII Memorial.
At the WWII Memorial, we met up with family!
Jeff, Dad’s youngest grandson, had rearranged his work schedule at the Department of Defense and come in from Baltimore to spend some time with Dad and to help him celebrate this most special day. Dad’s face just lit up when he saw Jeff for the first time! Jeff helped us find our way into the massive memorial. While Dad and Jeff explored the Pacific Arch, I took some photos and gave them some time to catch up. We also sat on a welcome bench and looked at Dad’s photos from his time in the Pacific Theater of Operations. The three of us walked around the ellipse of the Memorial and took photos before the New York column, and the Iwo Jim and Tarawa engravings at the foot of the Pacific Arch. Jeff pointed out that the WWII Memorial is situated such that one can see both the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial from it. The significance of WWII for maintaining the principles of freedom and democracy made this site on the Mall particularly appropriate.
We got word that Sen. Bob Dole was outside the memorial so we made our way out, where I was able to get a quick snapshot of him just as he was getting ready to leave. Two other groups of Honor Flight veterans were also visiting this memorial while our Bluegrass chapter was there: a small group from Kansas and a larger group, maybe 20 or so from New Mexico.
The buses then made the relatively short journey to the Korean War Memorial. We had box lunches from Arby’s on the bus. Dad opted to stay on the bus and rest during this part of the trip. As a Guardian, I was supposed to help out any/all veterans if Dad didn’t need assistance so I went with two veterans down to the memorial while Dad rested.
Our next stop was over the river to the Marine (Iwo Jima) Memorial. I think this was the one Dad was most looking forward to. I can remember Dad saying for years how much he wanted to visit this Memorial. In 1998, when he and I went to D.C. to see the Women in Military Service to America Memorial, he was too tired to take this one in, even though we had tentatively planned on doing so.
An extra nice thing was that as we were winding our way toward the parking area for the memorial, the bus leader announced that we were passing Fort Myer on the left with Arlington National Cemetery on the right. Fort Myer was where Mom was barracked during the War and, as I looked to the right, the view appeared to be the same as we have in one of the photos she took of the cemetery. I could imagine her walking perhaps down that road, into the cemetery, taking photos.
At the Iwo Jima Memorial, Dad was again honored to see both grandson Jeff and great-grandson Jeff Jr., who had also arranged his day to have time in the afternoon to spend with Dad! The three Juteau/Robinson men walked around the base of the huge Memorial while I snapped photos of it from a number of angles. The Iwo Jima Memorial struck both Dad and me as much larger than we had pictured it. The sculptures themselves are bronze but the flag flying overhead is cloth, which seems very appropriate. Engraved around the base are the conflicts in which the Marines have fought and, at the center of one side, is the “Uncommon Valor” emblem.
We took several significant photos at this site. The group photo for the Honor Flight was taken here with all 120 veterans somehow squeezed in front of the Memorial. When you see this photo, Dad will be standing in the middle of the second or third row with his red cap on. They then asked for any Iwo Jima veterans present; only five were with us. These five were grouped and their photo taken.
Most significant of all is the photo of Dad, me, Jeff and Jeff Jr., the four generations assembled together to honor Dad on this site. We drafted another guardian to take this most important photo for us.
At about 4:30 p.m., we parted from Jeff and Jeff Jr., reboarded the busses for the final time and headed back to Baltimore. What took us only about 35 minutes in the morning took more than two hours in the afternoon. Such traffic!
We arrived back at the Baltimore airport, hit the restrooms, sped through security with the same VIP clearance, reboarded our plane (which had been waiting all day for us) and were in the air by about 7:45 p.m. Supper on the plane was very welcome as everyone was pretty hungry by then! I had thought Dad would be tired and ready to nap by then but he was pretty talkative, thinking back through the many experiences of the day. Seeing Jeff and Jeff Jr. really made his day. His favorite memorial, hands down, was the Iwo Jima. “I never thought I’d really get to see it” was his first comment, along with “It’s huge!”
We guardians knew that awaiting the veterans back in Louisville was a homecoming celebration but we’d been sworn to secrecy. We’d been told that about 150 VFW, auxiliary, Scouts, family members and others turned out to wave flags, applaud and shake hands and thank them for their service. What awaited this particular Honor Flight were more than 500 such supporters. They were formed in two lines of 250 each.
After deplaning and forming a group, we made our way through this double line of applause and cheers. About every 20 feet someone held a large flag. Several people were in uniform; some saluted these veterans. Most just reached out to shake hands and to say “Thank you so much for your service.”
At one point, Dad came upon a whole “nest” of Marines, all with red jackets and/or caps. We were both teary even before this but they made such a fuss over him here that I could hardly see for the tears. They asked him where he served and when, called him “Marine,” etc. Everyone around me seemed to be just as tearful and appreciative. The line seemed never to end.
I knew Dad had to be exhausted after all the walking he had done that day but he stood up straight and kept on going. As we emerged from this “tunnel” of honor, the professional photographer snapped Dad’s photo so I think it will be in the photo gallery posted on the website.
Milton, my husband, was near the end of the line of supporters, applauding like everyone else. He whisked us away from the airport and to our hotel in record time, which still meant 11:30 p.m. before Dad got gratefully into bed at the end of a very long but very exciting day.
Of the 120 veterans on the flight, I am pretty sure Dad was the oldest. He joined the USMC in 1942 at the age of 26 while some of the others entered their branch of the military much later in the war, 1944 or 1945 at the age of 17 or 18. About 25 or 30 of the veterans were in wheelchairs, at least part of the time.
While I encouraged Dad to “ride” at least part of the time, especially through the long journeys to the gates in the airports, he insisted on walking with his two-wheeled walker the whole time. He says he didn’t get tired and that his legs held up fine. He certainly stayed in great spirits all day long. As you might expect, Dad didn’t really “reach out” to any of the other veterans but I suspect his poor hearing and difficulty processing language at this point may have had something to do with that.
I can’t say enough positive things about the Honor Flight Bluegrass program. From the overall organization — scheduling, arranging the flight and the buses, the VIP security clearance, the welcoming honor guards at the airports, keeping the wheelchairs coming for the non-ambulatory and that huge homecoming celebration in Louisville — to the tiniest detail, like the headrest covers on the plane and the hat pins for the veterans, their dedication to the veterans is clearly a top priority. While precision and organization were extremely important, it seemed obvious that consideration and respect for these men (and women) were paramount. I think I’ve told you all before but it bears repeating: everything Dad experienced was free to him. No veteran pays anything for the Honor Flight experience. In our case, this entire Honor Flight was underwritten by one anonymous Kentucky Colonel.
So, all in all, it was an awesome experience for both of us. Dad’s not terribly expressive. But he held onto my hand on the flight home and thanked me for making this possible. I’ll take that to the bank any day.
Level 1 status earned in We Honor Veterans
Heritage Hospice, Inc., has completed the requirements for earning Level 1 status, the first of four ranks, in the We Honor Veterans program.
The program began in September 2010 as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization recognized that one in four dying Americans are veterans and set out to better serve those who have served their country.
This national campaign, conducted in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, works with community hospice programs to improve the quality of care provided to veterans. Heritage Hospice, which serves Boyle, Garrard, Lincoln and Mercer counties, is one of eight Kentucky hospices enrolled in the program and among 900 community hospices working on completing requirements to better serve veterans.
Heritage Hospice staff is training about how to better care for veterans and working more closely with Veteran Administration Medical Center staff to improve service.
One exciting development of the program is that a staff member, Victoria Scarborough, and her 95-year-old father, Walter Juteau, who was at the Battle of Iwo Jima will be aboard an Oct. 6 Honor Flight to see the monuments in Washington, D.C.
In another area, volunteers with military backgrounds are paired with veteran patients because of the special bonds they share. As part of the We Honor Veterans program, a military checklist is completed for every veteran admitted to hospice. It determines such important information as whether the veteran is receiving military benefits.
Participation in We Honor Veterans empowers local hospices, such as Heritage Hospice, with tools and resources to better understand and meet the end-of-life needs of veterans and their families.
“We Honor Veterans is a wonderful opportunity for hospice to accompany and support veteran patients and their families through respectful inquiry, compassionate listening, and grateful acknowledgment of their service to our country,” says Janelle Wheeler, executive director of Heritage Hospice. “We are committed and honored to serve the men and women who gave and continue to give so much to use through their service.”
Burial benefits for veterans
Oct. 31, 2011
Veterans can take advantage of several burial benefits, such as being buried in a national cemetery. Government benefits include a headstone or marker and a flag, Even if they are buried in a private cemetery, they can receive a headstone, marker and flag. Burial allowances are available in some cases. Click here to learn more
Retired Army veteran volunteers with Garrard patient
Sept. 6, 2011
Editor's note: Gary Prewitt died Nov. 18. “We fell on the ground and we scrambled up and I ended up getting his hat and he got mine. I went around for awhile and couldn’t figure out why I kept getting saluted.”
Sam Irvin retired after 20 years in the military, but has found a way to stay close with other veterans as a volunteer for Heritage Hospice, Inc.
Irvin, who was drafted in 1974, ended up liking the Army and served until 1994 when he retired as a sergeant first class. He is participating in a program that pairs hospice’s volunteers with other veterans. He currently visits with Gary Prewitt of Lancaster, who served in the Army in 1970 to 1971 in Vietnam.
They find that service to their country bonds them together.
“We’ve got certain things we can talk about and we understand pretty much what we’re talking about,” says Irvin, who spent his military career training other soldiers.
Irvin, who also is an enlisted chaplain assistant and a minister in the Church of God, shared his faith with many soldiers.
“We flew out in a helicopter and did services in the field,” he says.
Irvin says he and Prewitt often swap stories about their time in service. One of Irvin’s funny stories is when he was participating in simulated war games and a blast went off while he was standing next to an Army major.
Irvin’s outreach to a fellow veteran fits perfectly with Heritage Hospice’s commitment to the national hospice program We Honor Veterans. The program recognizes that 25 percent of the Americans who die each day are veterans. It promotes better end of life care for veterans and recommends pairing patients with volunteers who are veterans or who have strong military backgrounds.
In addition to Irvin’s service, his father was in the Army, his father-in-law-served in the Korean War and his son is retired from the Army and living in Korea.
At Prewitt’s Lancaster home, they discuss less weighty topics as well. Irvin admires Gary’s woodworking skills. Evidence of his talents are displayed throughout the home in lamps, bookshelves and other wallhangings.
Irvin says he decided to volunteer in January because he has time now that he is retired.
“I wanted to give back some of my time and I appreciate what hospice did for my wife’s father.” Irvin’s wife, Linda, jumped into volunteering at the same time by taking the January training.
Irvin says, “I think more people should volunteer and help people. I think hospice is a great program."
Vietnam veterans can relate to each other
Sept. 6, 2011
Whether they are talking about gardening or their time in Vietnam, Heritage Hospice, Inc. volunteer David Cochran and patient John Chenault of Harrodsburg share a special bond.
“(John) and I are approximately the same age. We have a lot of similarities. Growing up, our family environments were pretty much the same and we were in the same war together and shared those experiences. There is a bond.”
“They are just like brothers,” says David’s wife, Sally, who has been a Heritage Hospice volunteer since January.
Cochran’s outreach to a fellow veteran fits perfectly with Heritage Hospice’s commitment to the national hospice program We Honor Veterans. The program recognizes that 25 percent of the Americans who die each day are veterans. It promotes better end of life care for veterans and recommends pairing patients with volunteers who are veterans or who have strong military backgrounds.
Pairing veterans is a great idea, says Cochran.
“We have a camaraderie with each other and we understand the things that people who haven’t been at war can’t understand.”
Since December, Cochran has been coming from Perryville to visit Chenault at least once a week. They have worked on mowing Chenault’s yard, which Chenault likes to keep neat and tidy. They have made ice cream. Cochran especially enjoyed joining other hospice staff to celebrate Chenault’s 64th birthday where one of his presents was turtle meat he had requested.
Chenault’s only complaint about Cochran’s visits is that his throat is sore the next day from talking and laughing.
Cochran served in the Army from 1969 to 1970 and he usually has been paired with veterans since he became a hospice volunteer 2 1/2 years ago. Cochran knows Chenault, who joined the Army at age 18 and served one of his two years in Vietnam, was a brave soldier. Chenault earned a Bronze Star with a V for valor. He was wounded twice and received a Purple Heart.
Cochran finds volunteering rewarding because he likes helping other veterans who are facing end-of-life decisions.
“I like just being able to comfort a fellow soldier in a time of need.”
Cochran decided to become a volunteer to help others.
“I’ve been so blessed in my life that I would like to pass it forward.”
His wife says she wanted to stay busy and give back to her community. She also had witnessed hospice in action with her father in Florida.
“When my dad passed away in Florida in hospice, hospice was so much help in decision making and everything.”