ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Don Bein joined the Army at 17-years-old. Two years later, he was shipped to Europe and served in World War II.
“We had nothing,” Bein remembered. “We’re standing around in olive drab overcoats, brownish green overcoats. The only thing missing is a red bullseye.”
Bein served at the Battle of the Bulge in 1945, the largest and bloodiest single battle in the war.
Now, he lives at Peterson Meadows retirement community, at 6401 Newburg Rd, telling war stories.
“I like to talk about the war, because I think people should know what happened,” he said.
“He’s living history, and still sharp as a tack, mentally,” said Cpt. Dylan Hedrick, of the Illinois National Guard.
Hedrick’s mother also lives at the independent living facility, and that’s how he met Bein. A friendship bloomed between the two.
“We miss and we lose those people who gave so much, I think it’s important that we honor those who are still living and appreciate and show them the respect they deserve,” Hedrick said.
Hedrick took it upon himself to obtain several high-honor military medals, and presented them to Bein in a shadowbox on Friday.
Bein is 96-years-old now. He lost his wife recently, but says he’s lived a wonderful life.
“In spite of the couple of wars I was in, I’ve had a life that’s just unbelievable and I thank the Lord,” he said.