‘I’ve been in much tougher situations’: Local World War II veteran battling coronavirus

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A 99-year-old World War II veteran is fighting the coronavirus in a Johnson County hospital.

On Friday, the war hero was taken to the hospital with symptoms. Now, Max Deweese is working toward recovery at St. Luke’s South Hospital.

“This has been tough, but I’ve been in much tougher situations,” Deweese said.

The Marine is fighting COVID-19, but he also fought in Japan and earned two Purple Hearts during his service.

Paul Chapa is the leader of F.I.S.H., Friends in Service of Heroes. He and Max have been friends for years, and he’s supporting him through his fight.

“Max is one of those guys from our greatest generation that is just so resilient,” Chapa said. “He’ll never ask for help. The guy last year was still shooting his age in golf.”

Before Deweese was taken to the hospital, Chapa heard he was in quarantine and wanted to cheer him up. He and a friend visited him outside his care facility.

“We went out there with a Semper Fidelis sign. Semper Fi, Marine,” Chapa said. “The Marine Care flag, and he was just so happy. We could see him up in the window, and he was waving at us and talking to us on his phone.”

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer friend,” Deweese said. “He’s done a lot for me. I’ve done a lot with him, and people like him are not easy to find.”

Chapa said even though Deweese is struggling, he still enjoys talking on the phone and staying positive.

“Max is doing wonderful. His spirits are always high,” Chapa said. “For someone that’s 99 years old, this guy — you would never think it when you talk to him on the phone or meet him in person because he has so much energy, and he’s so sharp.”

Even in the hospital, Max said he feels awful, but he will win the battle against the virus.

“I have been well-watched over by the good lord, or I wouldn’t be here today,” Deweese said.

Chapa said when Max beats it, he will have a new medal to add to his collection. F.I.S.H. is working on a special one to go next to his Purple Hearts.

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