Remembering Metro WWII hero with family

“Right now, I have a giant hole. But I know he’s with mom now.”
Remembering a war hero.
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2022 at 6:53 PM CDT
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (WOWT) - Remembering a war hero. While he was too humble to use that phrase himself the family says all you have to do is hear his stories to reach the conclusion.

France also gave him its version of the Medal of Honor.

During the height of COVID, LeMoine Van Houten, who goes by Van celebrated his 100th birthday from his front yard. Friends and family cheered as they drove by his Council Bluffs home.

An unusual scene for someone who has seen more than most of us in his century of living.

“Here I am 100 years old and worrying about something like this,” said Van in 2020.

After surviving a pandemic and the devastation of WWII, Van died peacefully in his home this week. He was 102.

“Right now, I have a giant hole. But I know he’s with mom now,” said Dave Van Houten, who only learned about why his father was awarded a Bronze Star later in life.

“We weren’t aware of all the things that happened to him in the war because he just didn’t tell us about it,” he said.

“A few years ago, we went to Europe and followed his footsteps. He did open up quite a bit on that trip,” said Jeremy Van Houten, one of Van’s grandchildren.

Those are some of the stories Van told 6 News when he turned 100.

Honoring an American who fought for our freedoms.

“The Battle for the Bulge. It was so cold and the snow. It was not easy to move,’ said Van in our 2020 interview.

Six brutal weeks of the Germans trying to split the allies in the forests of Belgium.

“He was always humble about it, but he took over his company at the height of the Battle of the Bulge because his commander was unable to do his duties, basically in shell shock,” said grandson Josh Van Houten.

That’s why he received the Bronze Star.

Josh Van Houten connected with his grandfather in a different way. When Josh deployed to Iraq in 2004 he took his grandfather’s military duffle bag with him.

Van met him at the airport. The duffle bag from WWI and his grandson came home.

“It held up better than the duffle bag they issued me,” said Josh Van Houten.

When Van was in his early 90s, he retraced his World War II route with family. He saluted General Patton’s grave and took comfort in seeing what war destroyed useful again.

“To see children playing and families having picnics where he had some of the worst experiences of his life, it gave him a lot of peace,” said Josh Van Houten.

Van served with the 26th Infantry Division, part of General Patton’s Third Army.

Visitation is scheduled for Friday from 5 p.m.-8 p.m. at Cutler O’Neill in Council Bluffs.

The funeral is Saturday at 10 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Omaha.

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