Louis VanSlooten Honored

Louis VanSlooten of West Olive, Michigan, was one of nine former POWs of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars to be honored today in Michigan.

The Holland (Michigan) Sentinel covered the event:

Long overdue

Veterans to receive medals in special ceremony today

The Holland Sentinel

Louis VanSlooten was captured in Africa, taken to Sicily and finally northern Italy during World War II.

He calls it a time of starvation. Prisoners were given one bowl of water and a few pasta pieces once a day. He lost about 60 pounds while a prisoner.

VanSlooten and another man escaped on Sept. 14, 1943, after being prisoners since Dec. 10, 1942.

The friends spent nine months living off the land — eating acorns, chestnuts and dandelions — until they met up with the Allied armies in Italy.

“I lived on a daily basis,” said VanSlooten, 88, of West Olive of his life after the escape.

VanSlooten, serving in the Army as a member of the Combat Engineers with the 1st Armored Division, should have received the Prisoner of War Medal but he never got it.

On Monday, June 30, he and eight other veterans will get the opportunity to receive medals they earned.

U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, will present the veterans their medals in a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. at Evergreen Commons, 480 S. State St.

“It’s been 66 years and I didn’t even know anything about the them,” VanSlooten said of the medals.

This ceremony is different, since there are veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, where the focus was on World War II veterans before, Hoekstra said.

“We’ve got the full complement of people,” Hoekstra said.

While VanSlooten will receive eight medals, Navy veteran Donald Bouman will receive 11.

Bouman served in the Navy during World War II aboard the destroyer Collett.

Bouman has his own piece of history attached to his service during the war.

He was aboard the Collett when the Japanese surrendered.

“We were a short distance from the Missouri where the papers were signed. I watched it all with my binoculars,” said Bouman, 86, of Zeeland.

About the medals he will receive, Bouman said it’s important for his family more than himself.

“I’m anxious to find out about the medals. It’s not so much for myself but for my kids,” he said.

Louis VanSlooten is here shown with U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra.

The medals Louis is holding are: Prisoner of War Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Button, Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar.