EveryStep Ceremony in Lenox Honors Korean War Veteran Fred C. Haynes

Navy veteran Fred Haynes was honored July 6, 2022, with a veteran “pinning” ceremony arranged by the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Ayr. The ceremony was held outside Fred’s home in Lenox.

Ninety-one-year-old Fred graduated from Lenox High School in 1949 and had started college when he decided that instead of being drafted, he would enlist to serve in the Korean War. “I was supposed to go to Pensacola, Florida after boot camp to become a jet aircraft pilot, but they started giving me all kinds of physicals and determined I was colorblind, so that ruined it for me.” Instead of becoming a pilot, Fred went to commissary school to learn how to cook. He spent 11 days on a ship to Guam and spent 27 months cooking for the 1200 servicemen aboard the Navy repair ship, the USS Laertes, which would respond to and repair ships in distress in the Pacific. “I was in the bake shop and butcher shop,” remembers Fred. “We got our meat in quarters and had to cut it up aboard ship. I enjoyed most all of it pretty well. It was a long time, but I did meet a lot of nice people and made some lifelong friends.”

When the USS Laertes was docked at Guam, Fred remembers being his in bunk at night when the “general quarters” announcement would sound. “We’d have to get up and always ended up going to the dump. The Navy would throw old or extra food in the dump. It was right after WWII and the Japanese holdouts were in all those islands. They would sneak into the dump to get the food.” The holdouts, soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy during WWII, either doubted the formal surrender of Japan in 1945 was real, or weren’t aware Japan had surrendered. These soldiers remained hidden in the jungles of Guam for decades, fearful of being taken as a prisoner of war. Fred says it was incredibly hot in Guam, with the temperature regularly climbing to 97 degrees with 100% humidity.

Fred also served on the USS Mount Katmai – an ammunition ship. “We hauled ammunition to different ports. I didn’t like that duty at all because it was so regulation. But they had to be that way on account of all the explosives. Everything had to be just right,” says Fred.

Fred met his wife, Joyce, while the USS Mount Katmai was docked in California. “One of my ship mates said to me one day, I’ll fix you up with a date if you want.’ I told him that would be all right. They fixed us up on a blind date and we went to Lawrence Welk on our first date.” Fred and Joyce were married in California. “A bunch of Navy buddies went with us to a wedding chapel. They had a minister and a lady there to sing.  She’s been good to me and I think I’ve been good to her, so it all worked out.” Joyce and Fred will celebrate 69 years of marriage this Christmas.

They still watch Lawrence Welk every Saturday night.

After his service in the Navy, Fred spent time in Texas, where his wife’s family lived and then returned to Iowa. He found work on farms, then for Barker Implement in Lenox, and eventually worked his own rented land for 41 years.

Fred receives care from the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Ayr. “They’re doing a good job,” says Fred. “They help me [get dressed] and they’re there in case I fall or something. The nurse comes and checks on us — they’ve done great work!”

The veteran pinning ceremony meant a great deal to Fred. “It was nice of so many people to come. It made me feel good. I’ve always told my kids, don’t be braggarts, but I did appreciate it. People that say they don’t enjoy attention are lying to you! I enjoyed having people [recognize] my service.”

Fred and Joyce raised six children. “Our kids are a godsend to us. They really take care of us,” says Fred. “Our family’s roots in Lenox go back to 1894. I think our granddaughter is the sixth generation to go to high school in Lenox.” Joyce and Fred have 12 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

EveryStep’s veteran pinning ceremonies provide honor, dignity and recognition to veterans at the end of their lives. Family members and friends are often on hand with EveryStep staff and volunteers during the celebratory events, which include the Pledge of Allegiance, the awarding of a veteran service flag pin, the singing of “God Bless America,” a reading of "What is a Veteran," and the presentation of a certificate of recognition.

EveryStep is a nonprofit health care organization and a Level 4 partner in the nationally recognized We Honor Veterans initiative. Through its hospice program, EveryStep offers several specialized services for veterans. EveryStep’s Veteran-to-Veteran program is a special service pairing veterans who are volunteers with hospice patients who have served our country. A specialized Veteran-to-Veteran volunteer can provide companionship while talking, reading and sitting with patients. Veterans bring a unique skill set to help patients find peace at the end of life.

To learn about volunteering opportunities across the 44 counties and many communities served by EveryStep Hospice, please visit https://www.everystep.org/volunteer/get-started. If you or someone you know needs care or support, complete the confidential "Find Care" form at www.everystep.org/find-care. The form sends a message to EveryStep staff who then follow up with a phone call. It's a great way to start a conversation and get answers with no cost or commitment. EveryStep can connect the individual to its own programs and services that may be helpful, as well as services offered by other organizations and providers in the community.

Photo above: During an honorary ceremony hosted by EveryStep Hospice, veterans gather to honor Navy veteran Fred C. Haynes (seated), who served in the Korean War. EveryStep Hospice Veteran-to-Veteran volunteers for the Mount Ayr team include, (standing, L-R): Virgil Ebrecht, 28-year Army veteran with combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan; Gary O’Daniels, Army veteran with combat duty in Viet Nam; and Dennis Abel, Army veteran with combat duty in Vietnam.