Military veteran

John Edward Vennink, 95, died Monday, Nov. 7, 2011, in Houston.

He was born Oct. 18, 1916, in Manilla, Iowa, son of John W. and Belle Welton Vennink. He and Amanda Schwieso Jenkins were married in 1947. She died in 1975. He and Frances Elmore were married in 1976. She died in 2007.

He entered the U. S. Army Air Corp on June 10, 1941 and served with the 12th bombardment group and the 81st squadron. He was an upper turret gunner in a B-25 that was shot down Sept. 11, 1942, by enemy fire. He was injured as he bailed out moments before the plan crashed. He was captured two days later by the Italians and turned over to the Germans. He spent 30 months imprisoned in Stalag 17-B Prison Camp in Krems, Austria.

He was honorably discharged from service as staff sergeant on Sept. 19, 1945. He was awarded many medals and commendations, including: The Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct, Prisoner of War Campaign, Missouri Patriotic Service, European-African Mid-Eastern Campaign, Victory WWII, American Defense Service, American Campaign and Honorable Service WWII.

He loved reading, woodworking and musical instruments. He played the harmonica and piano many times at church for specials or accompanying a group. He was still playing the harmonica at the nursing home up until six months ago. He was involved in the American Legion.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wives, Amanda and Frances; and three siblings, Louis and Carol Vennink and Miriam Denton

Survivors include three daughters, Kathryn Fontinel of Des Moines, Iowa, Judy Bonner of Cabool and Marlene McGrew of Chesterfield; four stepchildren, Don Jenkins of Omaha, Neb., Tim Elmore of Alpharetta, Ga., Susan Warkentin of Houston and Alan Elmore of Amsterdam; 17 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.

Graveside services were Wednesday, Nov. 16, in Nishnabotna Cemetery in Manilla, Iowa. Local arrangements were under the direction of Evans Funeral Home.

Memorials may be made to Gideons or the Wounded Warrior Project. Online condolences may be sent to the family at

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