Adopt-a-Vet dental program helps Iwo Jima survivor

YERINGTON, Nev. (KOLO) — Northern Nevada Dental Health Programs provides no-cost to low-cost dental care for children and veterans who need it most.

Bill Hanson talks with his granddaughter

A 98-year-old Iwo Jima survivor knows this first-hand.

Bill Hanson has lived a rich and full life. He has driven his camper 3,400 miles one way to Alaska at least five times with his wife. It’s his favorite place, so that’s where he decided to open up about that day 73 years ago in 1945 when he landed on Iwo Jima.

“I drew a lot of fire,” Bill said.

Bill drove an armored tractor with large blades designed to knock down ten- to 12-foot sand terraces put up to keep the U.S. soldiers off the Island.

“I dropped the blade and started down, like this; right then those terraces and that sand went ahead of me like it was a barrel of wheat,” said Hanson.

His work helped the United States take the island in 36 days after 6,849 Americans were killed in the battle. This marked the turning point of the war on the Pacific Theater.

Bill played a critical role in this victory. To this day he hasn’t stopped. In fact, he continues to work as a consultant for an irrigation company.

“I have customers that call me all the time,” said Bill.

One thing started slowing him down about eight years ago when he hit 90. His teeth started giving out. His caregiver says it was bad.

“He had a hard time chewing. It took him at least an hour to two hours to eat,” said Elizabeth Barryhill.

Bill lost about 35 pounds and that’s when he learned about the Adopt-a-Vet Dental Program. He was paired with Dr. Timothy Pinther in Minden. It didn’t take long for this dentist to develop a rich bond with Bill.

“Just a fantastic individual. Smart. Intelligent. Just with it. Very interesting,” said Dr. Pinther. “He has some missing teeth. Some decayed teeth and he just needed some replacements,” he continued.

He removed all Bill’s old teeth and made him dentures. The process was slowed to allow Bill’s body time to heal. In all, the entire process took about a year.

“The first thing I did was find something to eat that I could chew on,” said Bill.

Now he can eat like he used to without worry and it’s all because of the Adopt-a-Vet Dental Program and the Northern Nevada Dental Health Programs, a 2018 KOLOCares Pillar Partner.

“I want to say thank you. They did a great job,” Bill said.

If you know a veteran who is in need of dental care click on the attached link on the upper right corner of this report.

Click here for dentists who would like to volunteer their time, like Dr. Pinther, and here for viewers who would like to donate money to help pay for the dental supplies needed to help our veterans.

The 16th Annual NNDHP/Joel F. Glover Charity Golf Tournament is raising money for the Adopt-a-Vet Dental Program. It’s at the Lakeridge Golf Course September 21, 2018. Check-in starts at 7:00 a.m. The event includes breakfast, BBQ lunch, raffle, awards and a chance to win a Corvette from Champion Chevrolet. Proceeds benefit local low-income veterans in need of dental care. People can sign up to golf, become a sponsor, or make a donation by calling 775-337-0296 or by emailing or click here.