Local hospice center honors Pearl Harbor survivor
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- Center for Hospice Care honored one of Indiana's last known Pearl Harbor survivor in Culver with a pinning ceremony.
Sarah Youngs the Community Relations and Engagement Liaison said they found that one in four patients they serve is a veteran. Their recent patient was a Pearl Harbor survivor.
Jim DeWitt has been with the Center for Hospice Care since the beginning of the month. He is being recognized by the hospice facility for his service in the military.
“We want to show our appreciation for his sacrifice and just for his service, “ Youngs said.
Center for Hospice Care takes pride in serving veterans, since many of its patients are former U.S military members. Youngs said they honor veterans in several ways, like pinning ceremonies, staff, and volunteer training and caring for veterans.
So, when Youngs and her staff found out one of their newest patients is a Pearl Harbor survivor, they along with the local veteran community in Culver, honored him with a challenge coin, flag line, and a flag folding ceremony.
“He’s our history book. We appreciated every story he told us, and just loved talking to him, and so, we felt we wanted to do a special honorarium for him,” Youngs said.
Jim DeWitt will be featured in the Choices magazine that Center of Hospice Care puts out twice a year. If you want to read DeWitt's full story, you an request a copy here.
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. More than 2,000 Americans lost their lives that day.
DeWitt was 20 years old, at the time of the attack. He was aboard the USS Antares, a ship returning from a 37 trip out sea, when it spotted a submarine near the harbor entrance.
“Now, nobody knows what would’ve happened had we not spotted that submarine,” DeWitt said.
DeWitt is one of the last known survivors of the attack living in Indiana. He recalls, arriving at the harbor around 5:30 that morning. The gate to go in was down to prevent submarines from going in. Dewitt said, after the suspicious submarine was reported, the USS Ward Destroyer on duty took care of the situation.
“They were dropping flares where that submarine was, and I can see the Submarine, it dove down again, and I could see it underwater away. So, we watched the destroyer drop the death charges, so we figured it was just defensive maneuvers,” DeWitt said.
At the time, when the first wave of planes came in, DeWitt and his crewmates didn’t know the magnitude of what was going on. He initially thought the attacks were a drill.
“We could see planes coming and going, and then we could see smoke and that, but we really didn’t see it, we were listening to Hawaii music on the radio on the intercom. Then all of a sudden, they saying this is an air raid, take cover, this is an air raid, take cover,” DeWitt said.
DeWitt never experienced what was happening inside the harbor. But, while he did survive the attack, he lost a friend who was on the USS Arizona one of 18 ships that were sunk in the attack.