Volunteers Rebuild WWII Veteran's Home Before Winter

By KBJR News 1

October 19, 2012 Updated Oct 19, 2012 at 9:48 PM CST

Duluth, MN (Northland’s NewsCenter) --- A Northland World War II veteran is getting his house and yard fixed up after extensive water damage from June's flood.

Dozens of volunteers took time off work and spent the day in the dirt.

It’s a service project that gives back to a Northland hero.

June's flash floods washed away the grass and topsoil of World War II Tuskegee Airman, Joe Gomer's backyard.

The heavy rain and high winds also took a toll on an already deteriorating dormer on the house.

"There were people in worse condition; let's face it, but mines being taken care of, thank you," Gomer said.

Community volunteers and contractors, members of the Northland Veterans Services Committee and Home Depot employees are taking their time and tools to fix Gomer's home before winter.

A yard crew is taking necessary steps to re-build a lawn, expected to germinate next spring.

"Right now we are putting down a good layer of soil, trying to pick up some of the bigger rocks, get some grade, smooth it out, and apply seed and hopefully a top cover," Chris Jarman, a volunteer said.

Volunteers are also repairing drainages and a leaking sun roof.

"We are removing the sky lights and replacing the roofing,” Lyzz Wahlberg, Home Depot Project Manager said. “It has to be re-supported, it has to be insulated and shingled.”

The Home Depot Foundation provided $5,800 to fund the project but that doesn't cover the labor.

Volunteers say it's the least they can do to give back to a veteran who gave so much for the country.

"Everyone from young to old, and everyone is just here to pitch in and help out,” Mead Bradley, Home Depot Store Manager said.” It's fun, and it's an honor to help out a guy like Joe."

"The veterans are there, they work so hard, they do what is asked of them day in and day out,” Wahlberg said.

Due to Gomer's age and personal issues, he's unable to do the needed repairs on his own, but says he is very thankful for the help of the community.

"Volunteering seems to be the way Duluth goes now, and there are many opportunities to help others,” he said. “We should do that."

Work on Gomer's home will continue Saturday.

Volunteers are welcome to stop by to help.

Jennifer Walch
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