October 24, 2023
EveryStep Hospice Honors WWII Combat Veteran Arthur "Beezer" Vaughan
Pictured above: Arthur “Beezer” Vaughn with the EveryStep Hospice team in Mount Pleasant: Back (L-R): Katie Smith, Gordon Hawkins, Christina Gersema, Deanna Balderas. Front (L-R) Jordan Norton, WWII Veteran Arthur “Beezer” Vaughn, Gwendolyn Norton, Carrie Green.
EveryStep Hospice’s team in Mount Pleasant honored WWII Navy combat veteran Arthur Vaughan with a pinning ceremony October 4, 2023, at Mississippi Valley Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in Keokuk. Vaughan, better known as “Beezer,” was surrounded by his two sons and other family at the ceremony.
During the Great Depression, children often had to drop out of school and go to work to support their family. This happened to Beezer at age 16 when his father became ill and could not work. The war began when Beezer turned 17 and as WWII progressed into 1942, Beezer wanted to enlist. His mom wouldn’t sign the papers for him because he was underage, so his dad did. On December 10, 1942, Beezer reported to the Great Lakes Naval Station.
Beezer chose the Navy over the Army because, “they walked everywhere and I didn’t want to do a lot of walking.” He served aboard a troop transport and talks often of “seeing the world.” He was off the shore of France on D-Day, and remembers Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, East Africa and passing through the Panama Canal. He served in the Atlantic Theater and in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and remembers the liberation of the Philippines. He often says, “This is one Iowa boy who saw a lot of the world.”
Though he does not speak of it often, Beezer remembers being fired at by the enemy, and had a cousin die while he was overseas. Beezer couldn’t get home for the funeral and still regrets it. He was honorably discharged on January 1, 1946. Like most of the Greatest Generation, Beezer got married and started a family, settling in Keokuk.
Jordan Norton, a veteran volunteer with the EveryStep Hospice team based in Mount Pleasant, was there to honor Beezer at his pinning ceremony. “There's only a few of those WWII guys left and it's just an honor to visit with a living legend of his era,” says Norton. “How much he gave and what he saw and has been through — as a fellow veteran, I can’t even imagine it.” Norton, who began his military career in 2007, served in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, and continues to serve in the Iowa National Guard Alpha Company 224th Brigade Engineer Battalion in Mount Pleasant and Keokuk.
The Mount Pleasant-based EveryStep Hospice team of nurses, aides, doctors, social workers, bereavement and spiritual care counselors and other experts make home visits to hospice patients and their families throughout southeast Iowa.
Beezer visits often with Gordon Hawkins, EveryStep spiritual care counselor. “He talks a lot about how Keokuk has changed and how people take so much for granted,” says Hawkins. “He also mentions from time to time that when it comes to WWII veterans, there ‘aren’t too many of us left.’
“He talks often of how he missed his mom during the war. One of his favorite songs that he has me sing for him every visit and that he wants me to sing for his funeral is “Suppertime” by Jim Reeves and that brings back a lot of memories of his mom.”
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 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 our volunteer page. If you or someone you know needs care or support, call 319-385-4472 or complete the confidential "Find Care" form. 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.
If you are a veteran interested in volunteering your time to visit hospice patients, learn more or complete a volunteer application.