DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – In Southwest Dallas, a home makeover is underway for a humble man, still living an extraordinary life. Staff Sgt. Homer Hogues is one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. And today, the community is rallying to say ‘thank you’ for his service, with some much needed repairs.
“My heart is already full!” exclaimed Kimberly Smith with Orthofix. The Lewisville based medical device company provided a team of volunteers to add extra hands to the effort today. “I am looking forward to the expression on his face, when he sees his home, renovated,” said Smith as she joined volunteers scraping away at the peeling paint.
As the temperature soared, the yard filled with building materials and helping hands — some family, some friends, all eager to show their affection for a man called a “living legend.” Meanwhile, Sgt. Hogues basked in the extra attention– holding court and sharing wisdom. “I kept ’em in the air,” recalled the former airplane mechanic while speaking to a young fan, “and I prayed for ’em to come back.”
As much as he was clearly enjoying the day, Sgt. Hogues, in his humble way, was also wondering what the fuss was all about.
“It’s awesome,” he said…his voice barely a whisper above the busy renovation hum all around him. “never did think I’d see this many people ’round here helping me… I never did.”
At 91, the WWII veteran now uses a wheelchair. So the neat and tidy home that he has shared with his wife for decades was in desperate need of some upgrades. The Veterans Coalition of North Central Texas stepped in to make it happen “This is definitely not a hand out,” says Nekima Horton with the Coalition, “this is our honor. This is our duty to come out and make sure our living legends– this is an American living legend right here–and it’s our responsibility to come and make sure that their families are doing okay in their golden years.”
Brenden Determann with Texas Impact, another local non-profit, handles the heavy lifting on the construction. And volunteers provide critical helping hands– of all sizes. Some volunteers brought their kids along to help out as well– warming hearts in the sweltering heat.
“Children often follow the examples that are set before them,” said Smith of the young volunteers, “and I think this is the perfect example to have young people out here.”
The renovations are an inside/out affair… but, Sgt. Hogues says he is most looking forward to “the bathtub”, as the yard erupted in laughter: because everyone knows how much he’s excited about that new tub.
“Our construction crew was working on another job not even related to this and he called me screaming: I HAVE A TUB!” recounted Horton with a wide smile. “It’s a walk in tub with a door, with the jets and everything. It was in perfect condition. The owner found out it was for a vet and said you can have it. If you can move it out, come get it.”
Horton says she has had plenty of help in making the renovations happen. Long time supporters like Orthofix, Marriott, Home Depot and Lowes (just to name a few) provide volunteers and discounts on materials. But, she says the tub donation is also a reminder that individuals can also get involved in making a difference for our veterans– there’s room for everyone.
As for our veteran– he spent hours just looking around in delight and anticipation as the renovations got underway– asking me to share his appreciation.
“Thank, thank you, and may God bless you.”