CLEVELAND — Just days before Veteran’s Day, a Vietnam veteran was attacked in the middle of the day by two juveniles on his way to the Cleveland VA. He fought back, and with the help of two other veterans, held one of the juveniles until police arrived.
It happened in the garage just after 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
“I made a mental note to myself when I get down there, I’ll tell them they have people hanging out in the garage are probably up to no good,” said Peter Hoban, Vietnam veteran.
The 72-year-old’s instincts were right. Hoban never made it out of the garage. He parked his car, got out and started walking toward the hospital.
“Probably took about four or five steps and I heard his feet hit the concrete and I thought something is coming down," Hoban explained.
He said the teenager asked him for money. He said no and kept walking. The teenager blocked his path. That’s when Hoban said he shoved the teen, and out of nowhere another teenager hit him in the eye.
“They were both together so I charged them, tackled them down and started yelling for police and help,” Hoban said.
Before he got help, one got away with the keys he dropped during the struggle. But he continued to fight with the other. That is when two strangers — two veterans — came to his side.
“He was twisting his arm, I was holding his legs, a third gentleman came up and about that time I saw my car drive by down the ramp,” said Hoban.
The three veterans held the 17-year-old until VA Police arrived. The three already shared a bond, and now, another was formed. One of the veterans told Hoban, "You mess with a veteran, we stick together."
Hoban's daughter, a teacher in Texas, was so outraged she took to Facebook to share his story and post pictures of her dad.
“Over a car and money when people can go out and educate themselves and get a job. I don’t understand why people think they can take what isn’t theirs,” said Anastasia Benedek.
Now, Hoban is on a mission to find the veterans who helped him. As of late Wednesday, he found one of the men.
“I want to buy them a drink, coffee, dinner or whatever,” said Hoban. He is extremely thankful for the kindness of strangers.
The VA sent News 5 this statement:
“Sunday afternoon there was an incident in our patient parking garage involving a Veteran and two juveniles who attempted to forcibly steal his vehicle. The Veteran fought back and was able to detain one of the juveniles. A few of our VA employees assisted the Veteran with detaining the suspect until our VA police arrived. Our VA police arrested the suspect and began coordination with local authorities.
"Our VA Police conduct regular patrols throughout our property, but there is still an element of risk even in the safest of areas. This was an isolated incident, and our risk assessment does not call for additional security at this time. We continue to encourage Veterans, employees and visitors to report suspicious activity immediately. If faced with a similar situation, experts recommend maintaining your calm, giving the offenders the property, and immediately notifying authorities. We are thankful there were no serious injuries in this instance and that the Veteran’s car will be returned to him.”
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.