Homes for Our Troops, soldiers, community helping build new home for wounded vet
Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Darryl Wallace is getting his life back on track these days and renewing his personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Aside from restoring his spiritual life, Sgt. Wallace also is receiving a new home being built for him and his family in the Ansley Place subdivision of Harlem.
His new brick home, which is expected to be completed within 90 days, is part of a major project by Homes for Our Troops, a national organization based in Taunton, Mass., which is aimed at helping military double-amputees, who have become disabled from war injuries.
The 2,100 square foot home, which is being built by Chris Evans of Chris Evans Construction Company in Evans, is actually being made possible through donations from numerous businesses in the Augusta-Aiken area.
"It feels good to be a part of something as special as this is for this family," said Mr. Evans. "We're glad to be a part of it."
It takes a lot of materials, such as lumber, concrete, electrical and plumbing work, etc. to make such a project become a reality.
One businessman involved in the project is Anthony Pool, owner of Pool Heating and Air Conditioning in Thomson. Another Thomson business, McDuffie Electrical, which is operated by Larry Evans and Jimmy Lancaster, also are involved in donating materials and time to the project.
"It feels good to give back to the community and to do something special for Sgt. Wallace and his family," said Mr. Pool, who grew up in Harlem.
Without those donations, such projects would not be possible, according to Brian Reed, who is overseeing the project for Homes for Our Troops.
"We rely on the help of others to help us get these homes built for our wounded veterans," said Mr. Reed.
The new home in Columbia County is the group's 42nd one in the United States since the organization's founding back in 2004. It becomes only the second such home for a wounded veteran and his family in Georgia. The first one was built in Douglasville.
Sgt. Wallace, a former graduate of Thomson High School who was raised in McDuffie County, was critically wounded during a June 2007 attack on his armored vehicle in the Afghanistan War. He lost both legs and received a variety of other serious injuries.
"This is such a blessing to have a new home being built for me and my family," said Sgt. Wallace. "I can't think of anything to say about what all of these people are doing for me and my family except to say, thank you. It feels like I'm getting my life back again. I'm getting my spiritual life back together, too. I make it a point to read the Bible every night. It helps make me stronger."
Sgt. Wallace said he realizes how close he came to being killed.
"I just appreciate my life so much more, now," Sgt. Wallace told The McDuffie Mirror. "I realize how blessed I am to be here and I thank God that I am."
His wife, Tiffany, is equally excited about the changes coming for the family.
"I appreciate so much what everybody has done for us," said Mrs. Wallace last Wednesday, while sitting in a chair beside her husband's uncle, Joe Wood, of Evans.
The couple, along with their four-year-old son, Chase, used to live in a single-wide mobile home before his war injuries. The family is now housed at Fort Gordon and will be there until they move into their new home.
The Wallace family also has received an abundance of support from soldiers at Fort Gordon - many who volunteered their time and labor to frame the home and to do other things during a three-day session last week.
While U.S. Army Sgt. First Class Elemenia Malone of Bravo Company 67th ESB of the 35th Signal Brigade and several volunteer soldiers were working on the home last Wednesday, a van pulled up, bringing in more soldiers as volunteers.
"We wanted to do something special for Sgt. Wallace, because he's a fellow soldier," said Sgt. Malone. "This was strictly a volunteer mission and we received so much response. I think it's great."
Sgt. Major Victor Fernandez of the 447th Signal Battalion said 10 soldiers from each unit volunteered their services.
"My primary purpose for coming out was to show our young soldiers how we can help a fellow battle buddy," said Sgt. Maj. Fernandez. "I wanted to show them that we still look after our own and that they are now part of that brotherhood."
George Guthrie, of Appling, who heads up a group of military veterans with the American Legion Post No. 192, also brought several volunteers to assist in building the Wallace home. Several of the members, known as the Legion Riders, rode their bikes.
"We're here, because it's the right thing to do," said Mr. Guthrie, who served in both the Air Force and Army. "We want to show Darryl and his family our support."
American Legion Post 178 of Augusta also was represented there.