DECATUR, Ala. - After serving and surviving some of the hardest fought battles of World War II, a Tennessee valley veteran has fallen on hard times. While John Kuhn was in the hospital, thieves broke into his home and took something priceless: the medals he received for courageously serving our country.
John Kuhn received two bronze stars, and multiple battle ribbons during his military career in the Navy.
Like so many in the "Greatest Generation," John Kuhn lost his innocence in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
“I became a man on that island," says Kuhn.
John drove Higgins boats for the Navy, and saw gruesome and horrific things he couldn't even tell his dog Buddy about.
But the nearly 94 year old says, he said a prayer in the midst of his deployment that would change everything.
"I told the Lord if he would spare me, that I would stay with my mother and father and help them for as long as they lived," he says.
After the war, he fulfilled his promise and then some.
But it was when he needed medical care himself, when things got tough for the decorated veteran.
“Somebody broke into the house and they took a lot of stuff," says Kuhn.
While hospitalized for several months, someone broke into John's Tennessee home and took service ribbons and medals, near and dear to his heart.
"Meant a lot of grief, a lot of sorrow and a lot of happiness too because it was done for our country," says Kuhn.
To make matters worse, when he did come home, he discovered his roof had fallen into disrepair, so much so, John now calls a rented house in Decatur his temporary home.
“She’s been an angel," he says.
Chris Batte is the founder of the Huntsville chapter of Forever Young Veterans. She's already started researching how to get new service ribbons for John.
“We can notify the government and in their timely fashion, they will issue replacement ribbons for him," she says.
As for his roof, "She called me, she says I’ve got good news for ya, they are going to furnish all the roofing and all the woodwork you’ll need and it’s not going to cost you anything, and I said nobody can do that, nobody does that," says Kuhn.
Batte got Wilson Lumber Company to donate all the supplies.
“So right now we’re in the process of looking for a trained group of volunteers to roof his house," says Batte.
Forever Young Veterans is in the business of granting wishes for veterans. For the most part, that comes in the form of trips back to the battlefield, but many other times, it's whatever these men need.
"Now that they’re older, those things come back up because they’re not as active as they were. So they’re really suffering now than they suffered their whole lives," she says.
For John, just eventually getting back under his own roof, with the medals he earned, takes him back to a level of joy he hasn't experienced since he was young and innocent.
"I’m overwhelmed, it means everything to me," says Kuhn.
Forever Young Veterans is holding their first ever meeting, Tuesday May 2, 2017, at Dynetics at 10:30 am in Huntsville.
If you know a veteran who might be good for the program, or would like to donate to their cause, you can give them a call at 931-409-3812.
Chris's email is also, firstname.lastname@example.org.