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Chicago Cubs honor Grand Mound World War II veteran

Don Kent served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

DEWITT, Iowa — In this game called 'life,' a hero could be in your same room.

"It's just a pleasure and privilege to be able to serve," said Don Kent.

More than seven decades ago, Kent served his country in World War II.

He was in college at Cornell in Mount Vernon when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. Soon after, he volunteered to serve, enlisting in the Army Air Corps and flying P-47 planes over the jungles in Burma.

"You felt like you were king of the hill," Kent said. "It was a massive airplane."

The accolades from his time in the service are just as massive.

"This is the distinguished flying cross and then the air medal with three clusters," Kent explains as he shows off the shadow box hanging on his living room wall.

For the 99-year-old honored veteran, that is only part of his American pastime.

"I've been a Chicago Cubs fan since the Gabby Hartnett days," Kent said.

That was back in the 1930s, when Kent attended games with his dad, taking the train into Chicago to see the Cubs play.

Fortunately, Kent is on his way back.

Kent's new team -- the care staff at Fieldstone of Dewitt Senior Living -- sent him and his family off in style early Thursday morning. It also helped continue a tradition in the Kent family.

"My two brothers and I often went to Wrigley with he and my mom too," said DeAnn Larson, Don's daughter. "My mom was a ginormous cubs fan as well so it's really thrilling."

The family says going back to Wrigley together has never been quite this special.

For the first time back at Wrigley in several years, Kent had a place on the field during the second inning. The Cubs recognized him during the club's first military salute of the 2023 season on opening day.

Kent also received a salute of his own — a standing ovation from a packed Wrigley Field.

In this game of life, you never know who is sitting right next to you. Thursday's game, though, celebrated the hero in the room.

After the ceremony, Kent received a game ball from the Chicago Cubs.

Don will be celebrating his 100th birthday in August.

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