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Family of Vietnam veteran honors his homecoming 50 years later

Cpl. Doug Belville received a homecoming ceremony as a surprise from his family on Monday night.

DAVENPORT, Iowa — More than 50 years after he served, a Vietnam War veteran in Davenport was honored again by his family.

This time, it was the homecoming he did not receive when he first returned home from the war.

It was not your typical welcome-home ceremony. This one was planned in less than a week.

"Actually, he doesn’t even talk about the war very much," said Rhonda Halterman, the step-daughter of Doug Belville.

Halterman was waiting Monday evening for the guest of honor, her step-father, to arrive at Silvercrest Garner Senior Living for the surprise.

"Seeing what the medals are has given me a whole new perspective on what he’s done to serve our country, and given me a whole new perspective as a step-father, too," Halterman said.

Those medals needed replacing.

"They were all stolen in the 70s," Halterman said.

And what better way to replace them than with Cpl. Doug Belville's homecoming.

"This is a small way we can try to move forwards because we can’t go backwards," Jennifer Terstriep said.

Terstriep is part of the "We Honor Veterans" program, which provides recognition for both veterans and their families. 

Terstriep also grew up knowing Belville and also said he did not talk much about the war when she would visit Belville's family.

"Our goal is for him to feel our love and appreciation for his service and sacrifice for our country," Terstriep said.

Veterans from around the area presented Belville with commemorative pins. Then came the surprise replacement.

"I can show 'em and show 'em and show 'em and have conversations about what I did," Belville said.

A Vietnam Veteran is back in possession of his Purple Heart after it was stolen nearly 40 years ago during a burglary.

Posted by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Sunday, October 24, 2021

Monday's celebration was the homecoming ceremony Belville never had when he first came back from the war more than 50 years ago.

"I love everybody here, and that gets emotional," Belville said.

It was a homecoming fit for a hero.

"He is a hero in all of our eyes," Halterman said.

Belville served in the Fourth Infantry Division and spent one year in Vietnam.