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Memories of Dec. 7, 1941
Sioux City Navy veteran recalls brief time spent at Pearl Harbor

SIOUX CITY -- Like many of his generation, the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor remains vivid in John Hendrix' memory.

Now 92 years old, he remembers Dec. 7, 1941, and can recall his reaction when hearing radio reports about the Japanese attack on the U.S. fleet anchored in Hawaii. He wanted to enlist in the military right then and there and fight back.

"Me and my buddy, we wished we were in the Army. We were 15 years old," Hendrix said.

They were too young to serve at that time, but Hendrix would get his chance soon enough.

Born and raised in Tennessee, Hendrix said he left home at age 17 to work in a shipyard in Georgia to learn how to be a sheet metal mechanic.

"I stayed there at the shipyard until I was drafted," he said. "I knew when I got 18 I'd be drafted. I got a notice from my draft board."

Today marks the 77th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, an event that drew the United States into World War II. The two waves of Japanese planes that swept over Pearl Harbor and surrounding airfields left 2,343 U.S. servicemen and 68 civilians dead and another 1,143 wounded.

After the attack was over, six U.S. battleships were either sunk or destroyed along with several other ships. Dozens of Navy and Army Air Corps planes were destroyed.

When Hendrix entered the Navy in April 1944, he wasn't bent on revenge for the attacks, but he soon saw some of the rebuilding still taking place more than two years later.

Once Hendrix had completed boot camp, he sailed from Newport News, Virginia, to Pearl Harbor, to await further orders.

"There was still evidence of the attacks," he said of Pearl Harbor's condition when he arrived there. "The Navy was putting in sidewalks and the Army was doing this and that."

After about two weeks, Hendrix was assigned to the USS Kidd, a destroyer named for Rear Adm. Isaac C. Kidd, who died on board the battleship USS Arizona, which exploded and sank to the bottom of Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack.

The USS Kidd had just returned from fighting in the Pacific Ocean and soon rejoined it.

Hendrix was assigned to one of the ship's 5-inch guns, but at 130 pounds, he wasn't big enough to handle the 80-pound shells, he said. He was reassigned to the chief's quarters, where he served the ship's commanding officers.

"I wore the phones. I knew everything that was going on," he said.

After a stop in Fiji, the USS Kidd sailed to the Philippine Islands, where it took part in the battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles of World War II. Hendrix remembers being on the ship's deck and watching American invasion forces land.

"We sat in the harbor and bombarded the beaches," he said.

Once the battle was over, the USS Kidd escorted American ships to New Guinea to pick up more troops. While returning to the Philippines, the USS Kidd received orders to return to the United States for maintenance. Back in the United States, Hendrix was transferred to land duty and served the remainder of the war at a naval base in Bremerton, Washington, before his discharge in April 1946.

After his discharge, Hendrix went to Odessa, Texas, where he drove trucks. He had a cousin in Sioux City, and moved here in 1964 to be a trucker for Holdcroft Trucking. Hendrix spent 36 years as an over-the-road trucker before retiring.

Now a resident of Holy Spirit Retirement Home in Sioux City, Hendrix easily rattles off the dates of his service and tells stories of his service time.

Like so many others, that service time can be traced back to one date: Dec. 7, 1941.

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 

Rhinehart Law staff are shown above. Front row from left, are Matthew Metzgar and Scott Rhinehart; back row from left, are Tara Osterholt, Lisa Sachau and Melissa Johnk. Rhinehart Law has donated to the Journal's Mr. Goodfellow Charities. 

Mr. Goodfellow: Siouxland Women's Health Care

DONOR: Siouxland Women's Health Care

AMOUNT: $1,000

ABOUT THE DONOR: Siouxland Women's Health Care, 1000 Jackson St., is a leader in providing obstetrical and gynecological services for the women of Siouxland. From annual wellness exams, family planning, having a baby or needing specialized care for women’s issues, you can trust in the expertise of our seven health care professionals to deliver superior medical services in a caring environment. Doctors Vereen, Hamburger, Schneider, LaFavor, Hay, Lohr and nurse practitioner Jodi Netley are dedicated to providing the best care for all stages of a woman’s life.

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City of Moville bids on aging motel; aims to redevelop property fronting Hwy 20

MOVILLE, Iowa -- The city has bid $150,000 for Moville's only motel, which could then be demolished with a goal of redeveloping the property fronting Highway 20.

A real estate company listed the 64-year-old Motel 20 for $240,000. The city offered $150,000 about 1 1/2 months ago, Mayor Jim Fisher said.

Jon Wingert, a sales representative for United Country Heartland Real Estate of Spirit Lake, presented a counteroffer to the City Council at a meeting Wednesday. The City Council decided to stick with its original bid, said Fisher, who declined to disclose the amount of the counteroffer.

Wingert said the motel owner will weigh the city's offer against other interested parties. 

"There's several people that are interested in the property," he said. 

Fisher said the motel, which has been closed for months, is in need of repairs. If the city gains control of the property, city officials would explore selling it to a new operator.

The mayor considered that a long shot, though. 

"That'd be wonderful, but it's going to take a lot of money," he said. 

The most likely scenario would be to raze the structure and turn the property into green space that could be marketed to a new business.

The motel sits along a frontage road parallel to Highway 20 that in the past few years has become a site for numerous Moville businesses, including a Subway, Dollar General and a Lewis Drug store.

The city has looked into developing a new urban renewal district near the frontage road. This week, Fisher asked the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors to consider diverting $750,000 earmarked for a new bridge just outside the city limits to new infrastructure for the frontage road. The state recently completed widening the highway from Early to Moville. The four-lane expressway has brought increased traffic through Moville and other cities along the route.

The Motel 20, built in 1954, was once popular with highway travelers. Decades ago it was painted pink and boasted air conditioning, tile baths, air foam mattresses and TV sets. Fisher said Dewey Hebler, who owned the hotel in its early days, kept a herd of buffalo across the highway visible to curious guests. 

"It was a tourist attraction," Fisher said. 

More recently, the motel was owned by Norwegian immigrants Leiv and Iolanda Salte. Leiv Salte died in a lawn mower accident near the motel in July 2017, and this year Iolanda decided to sell the property.  

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Iowa let major Medicaid provider keep $2.4M in overpayments

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — After a major provider agreed to stay in Iowa's troubled Medicaid program, a top aide to Gov. Kim Reynolds quietly signed a deal letting its hospitals and clinics keep $2.4 million in mistaken overpayments, according to records released Thursday.

UnityPoint Health threatened to quit Iowa's Medicaid program a year ago, saying it was at an impasse in contract negotiations with the managed care organization AmeriGroup. Its departure would have disrupted care for 54,000 Medicaid recipients statewide beginning April 1. But UnityPoint and AmeriGroup reached a last-minute agreement to keep the provider network in the program, a political victory for Reynolds.

Weeks later, Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven cut UnityPoint a break that allowed it to keep more than half of the overpayments that had been identified by a Medicaid audit, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.

The payments in question were incentives for using electronic health records that Iowa Medicaid had awarded to providers using federal funding earmarked for that purpose. Medicaid awarded UnityPoint hospitals and clinics $19.2 million between 2011 and 2015, but auditors last year found that was an overpayment of nearly $4.4 million due to miscalculations relating to the number of services provided.

The program sent letters to UnityPoint's affiliates demanding repayment in full, including from hospitals in Des Moines, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Rock Island, Illinois.

But the settlement, signed April 25 by Foxhoven, said UnityPoint would only have to refund half of the overpayments after appeals, up to a maximum of $2 million. DHS acknowledged in the agreement that the overpayments weren't due to any "intentional misconduct" by UnityPoint.

UnityPoint argued the overpayments resulted from Iowa Medicaid's failure to verify and calculate the amounts it was owed under the incentives program, a charge that state officials denied. The agreement said the two sides were settling "for economic reasons, to buy peace, and to avoid the time, cost and uncertainties of contesting the matter."

A whistleblower alleged in a letter to Democratic state Sen. Joe Bolkcom that the agreement was payback for UnityPoint's continued participation in Medicaid.

In an interview Thursday, Bolkcom said administration officials never informed lawmakers "that they made a $2.4 million decision to benefit one provider network" and questioned whether they had the authority to waive the collection of documented overpayments. He suggested the incoming state auditor, Democrat Rob Sand, should investigate the deal as part of his promised review of Medicaid.

"This just looks really fishy that this deal would be struck," Bolkcom said. "It would appear this was done to alleviate this political problem of a big provider literally dropping out of the managed care network."

UnityPoint spokeswoman Heather Nahas said the deal was unrelated to its decision to stay in Iowa's program, which has faced turmoil since its administration was turned over to for-profit managed care companies.

The agreement came as other hospitals and clinics were complaining that they weren't being paid in a timely manner and as some severely disabled residents and other patients reported having their services cut or denied. Despite the cuts, the privatization hasn't saved as much money as anticipated.

The AP requested a copy of the settlement agreement from DHS in early October. At the time, Medicaid was a central issue in the governor's campaign against Democrat Fred Hubbell, who had accused her of mismanaging the program and ran television ads highlighting the impact on the disabled.

DHS released a copy on Nov. 9, days after Reynolds narrowly defeated Hubbell to win a four-year term. Additional records were released Thursday confirming UnityPoint's affiliates paid back $2 million earlier this year but an additional $2.4 million was waived.