Ninety-nine year old hospice patient honored for his service in WWII
Erwin “Gene” Carman (born 1918) served in the US Army Air Corps during WWII. He was shot down over France on August 8, 1944 and captured by German forces, only to have them surrender to him 11 days later. Roughly 16 million Americans served during World War II. Carman is one of approximately 558 thousand still alive today, though in hospice care with Four Seasons Compassion for Life.
Since its partnership with the national initiative “We Honor Veterans” in November 2014, Four Seasons hospice has honored nearly 300 veterans by formally thanking them in a pinning ceremony, which includes a “final salute” by a member of MOAA (Military Officers Association of America.) This time, it was Carman’s turn.
He wore a pressed, blue Oxford shirt and sat upright in bed. He was alert and surrounded by visitors, including his daughter, Dr. Carrie Carman. At 99 years old he was not used to being the center of attention, but greeted everyone warmly. John Knapp, a member of MOAA there to perform the ceremony, acknowledged that since Carman served in the Army Air Corps, he came prepared with a pin depicting the US flag crossed with the Army flag. However, just in case Carman identified himself more as an Air Force man, he had brought a pin with the Air Force and US flags crossed. Carman chose the Army flag, which Knapp pinned to the right lapel of Carman’s jacket. Knapp called all veterans in the room to attention, and all, including Carman still sitting as straight as his frame could hold him, raised their right hands in salute.
Jan Buchanan, Chaplain with Four Seasons, continued the ceremony and spoke of how “1 in every 4 dying persons in America is a veteran,” and how we need to do a better job caring for these individuals. She spoke to Carman directly, reading the certificate to him and thanking him for his military service, “We are all indebted to you for your service,” she said to Carman as she pinned the We Honor Veteran pin to his left lapel. He paused, then replied, “Indebtedness takes a reciprocal turn. It is an honor to have received this pin.”
As we prepare to celebrate this Veterans Day, let us remember:
A veteran – whether active duty, retired, or national guard or reserve – is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to “The United States of America,” for an amount of “up to and including THEIR LIFE.” – author unknown.
About Four Seasons: Serving 11 counties in Western North Carolina by providing the most trusted care comprised of the following service lines; Care Navigation, Home Care, Palliative Care, Hospice Care, Bereavement Support and Clinical Research Trials. Four Seasons is a national leader in high quality, patient-centered care. For more information on Four Seasons care services or to get involved, please visit fourseasonscfl.org or call 828.692.6178.
About the Four Seasons We Honor Veterans Program: Veteran patients and their families have made huge sacrifices for our nation. When they enter into their end of life journey, it is our time to serve them. Four Seasons is humbled and honored to be given the opportunity to provide care during this significant time. Since the inception of the We Honor Veterans program at Four Seasons, alongside the Western North Carolina branch of the Military Officers’ Association of America (MOAA), we have had the honor of recognizing and thanking more than 250 Veteran patients for their service to our country. This program allows Veteran patients that may have never been thanked for their service to now be thanked and recognized. To speak with someone about volunteering with or making a gift to support the Four Seasons We Honor Veterans Program, please call our Foundation office at (828) 513-2440.