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Former Iran hostage and his wife, both Kentuckians, laid to rest after battling COVID

Donald Hohman, one of the 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days between 1979 and 1981, was laid to rest along with his wife Anna Hohman in the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Radcliff Friday.

The couple, both 79, lived in Elizabethtown and died within eight days of each other this fall after contracting COVID-19, their daughter-in-law, Jocelyn Hohman, said Saturday afternoon. They had been married 52 years.

Donald Hohman, a retired chief warrant officer 2, died Sept. 22, according to an obituary. Anna Hohman died Oct. 1, her obituary stated.

A California native, Donald Hohman was an Army paramedic who had been assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran just a few months before a group of Iranian militants seized the embassy on Nov. 4, 1979, the Sacramento Bee reported.

He was the only one of the hostages with a medical background, his obituary stated. He was credited with risking his own life and likely saving the life of a fellow hostage by getting medicine from the dispensary at the embassy, the Bee reported, and he earned the nickname “Doc” by providing care for others during their captivity.

Jocelyn Hohman credited her father-in-law’s stubbornness with helping him survive the ordeal.

“He was a stubborn man,” she said, laughing. “He wasn’t going to let this dictate his life.”

She said he went on hunger strikes and spent time in solitary confinement because of it. He lost 50 pounds during the ordeal, the Bee reported.

“Instead of being scared over there, he was angry,” Jocelyn Hohman said. “He gave them a run for their money.”

He was also an outspoken critic of President Jimmy Carter, holding him responsible for a failed rescue attempt that left eight soldiers dead in April 1980, the Bee reported.

The hostages were released the day President Ronald Reagan took office, Jan. 20, 1981.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and Maj. Gen. Shober pin a medal for “extraordinary patriotism” on Donald Hohman, an Army medic who was one of 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days, in a ceremony at the California state Capitol on Feb. 5, 1981.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and Maj. Gen. Shober pin a medal for “extraordinary patriotism” on Donald Hohman, an Army medic who was one of 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days, in a ceremony at the California state Capitol on Feb. 5, 1981.

Hohman was later awarded the Soldier’s Medal, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit and other military honors, and he and other hostages were immediately thrust into the limelight.

“We started feeling like hostages to the American people. I realize that they needed heroes,” he said in a 1986 interview, the Sacramento Bee reported. “But we needed time for isolation; we needed to regroup. We went right from dead zero into the spotlight, having to behave like something we weren’t, being treated like something we weren’t. It could have been damaging.”

In the years after the hostage crisis, Donald Hohman rarely talked about his time in captivity, his daughter-in-law said.

“He kept it close to his chest, for the most part,” she said. “He had a lot of psychological trauma from that.”

Anna Hohman was a native of Germany and was living there with her family while working as a nurse when the hostages were freed, which allowed her husband to be the first of the hostages reunited with family, according to a UPI story at the time.

The hostages were taken to Wiesbaden Air Force Hospital in Germany, where Hohman had previously served, immediately after being evacuated from Iran. The UPI article described the couple’s brief reunion in the hospital commander’s office.

“Needless to say, it was pretty emotional,” the article quoted an unnamed official as saying. “Wouldn’t you be pretty excited after 14 months?”

Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer II Donald Hohman and his wife Anna Hohman, both of Elizabethtown, died within eight days of each other this fall. They were buried Friday at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Radcliff.

Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer II Donald Hohman and his wife Anna Hohman, both of Elizabethtown, died within eight days of each other this fall. They were buried Friday at Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Radcliff.

“They were quite a team,” said Jocelyn Hohman, who is married to the couple’s son Yuri and lives in Elizabethtown. “They balanced each other.”

She described Anna Hohman as “a little powerhouse” who “kept the family together.”

“She wasn’t just my mother-in-law. She was my best friend, my mentor,” she said.

Jocelyn Hohman said the family moved to Kentucky in 1998.

After retiring from a 25-year career in the military, Donald Hohman continued to work as a civilian at Fort Knox’s Ireland Hospital until 2005, his obituary stated.

Jocelyn Hohman said the couple chose to remain in Kentucky because Donald Hohman loved the green, rolling landscape.

“And he liked being around veterans,” she said. “Hardin County had a lot of veterans. He’d run into people” who served with him.

Jocelyn Hohman said Donald Hohman had been vaccinated for coronavirus, and Anna Hohman was “very careful” in her interactions with others during the pandemic.

“It was devastating,” she said of their passing.

She said the services held Friday were made extra special by American Legion Post 113 in Hardin County, which helped arrange to have a color guard, Patriot Guard Riders,a bagpiper and others in attendance.

“We really wanted him to have an honorable sendoff,” she said. “They went all out. … We thought it was just going to be family. …We were just in awe.”

Aside from Yuri Hohman, the couple had another son, Kai Hohman of Nevada. Donald Hohman also had two daughters, Janet Taylor-Hohman and Renee Hohman of California. And they had numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“His grandchildren were his everything,” Joceyln Hohman said.