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WWII Veteran Honored in Hospice Ceremony

Longtime Oak Forest resident and WWII veteran Don DeVos received a hero's welcome into hospice care Sunday, Nov. 13.

It was only in the last few years that Donna Rinker heard the story about how her father stopped the abuse of a Japanese prisoner of war.

Don DeVos, now 87, served in the South Pacific with the Navy during WWII. When other members of the military were beating a captured Japanese soldier, DeVos stepped in and stopped the abuse.

"It really just, to me, proved the type of person he was," Rinker said. "That really proves he's always had the integrity, the deep feelings for anybody, no matter who you are, whether it's wartime or peacetime.

"He's just always been a wonderful role model for us as we've grown up."

DeVos was honored for his service Sunday with a special ceremony, pin and certificate. As DeVos entered Joliet Area Community Hospice care within in New Lenox, his family took the time to gather with hospice leaders for the ceremony in their father's name.

The program, called Pride, Honor, and Dignity, highlights the patient's service to the country—oftentimes, something the veteran does not speak of until later in life.

For DeVos, he began mentioning his service within the last 5–10 years.

This is not uncommon, said JACH Director of Business Paul Newport. Many veterans repress the memories throughout their lives.

The hospice completes about 200 pinnings per year. General length of stay in hospice care is about six months—in some cases, they don't make it to the patient in time. But for the ones they can reach, the experience is heartening.

"When you see the reactions from most of the families and the patients, it's phenomenal," said Newport. "We have veterans who have never been thanked before."

appreciated the gesture—and so does her dad.

"When he heard that they were going to do this, this really stuck with him," Rinker said. "As he has aged, what happened during the war, and the fact that he served as meant so much to him, so the fact that they were willing to honor him that way, just meant a lot.

"It was something that we'll always remember, even after he's gone."

Paul Dailing contributed to this report.

Brad Stewart November 14, 2011 at 01:30 PM
This is awesome ! I recently attended a function at Midway Airport called Honor Flight Chicago (it is on the web, watch the video narrated by Gary Sinese) They take WW II veterans to Washington DC, then when they return home they get a Hero's Welcome many of them did not recieve. This was an awesome experience and an awesome teaching moment for my boys who seen up close the sacrifice these men and women did for us as a nation. The raw emotion that comes out is very real, when you see these vets overwhelmed with emotion as you shake their hands to WELCOME them HOME it also overwhelms you too. It also re kindles patriotic feelings for the USA ! I highly recomend this organization, they are constantly looking for people to help out or just be in the crowd to be LOUD & PROUD of our vets and our country !!!!!
thomas vonarb November 14, 2011 at 10:26 PM
11-14-2011 I was nine years old when my aunt Lois married Don. He became not only my uncle but as I grew he became a good friend of mine. Like he is to many others that know him. I know him to be always faithful and honest. He always gave good fatherly advice. Don employed me when I needed a job in my teenage years. There is no one better than he. I love this man. I am and always will be Your Loving Nephew Tom VonArb

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