An 89-year-old Korean war veteran and Purple Heart recipient arrived home Friday to a clean and renovated house after it had fallen into disrepair.
As Bill Parrish, known to most as Gunny, had watched his health decline over recent years, so had the state of his East Dallas home.
It’s a situation that made it to the desk of Brian “Twelve” Wilburn, the Director of Veteran Operations at the Veterans Resource and Outreach Center.
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Over the course of three weeks, he managed to wrangle help from the Combat Veteran’s Motorcycle Association, America's Guardians, Third Watch, Lowes Home Improvement, the Marine Corps League, Life Message, and Eco-Safe.
During that time, volunteers exterminated the house, removed everything, cleaned it and then filled it with new appliances and furniture to make it feel like home.
Because after Gunny’s wife died in 2015, it’s all he has.
“This is home. This is the only place I’ve got. I don’t have family. This is my home,” said Gunny.
On Friday, people from all over DFW gathered with flags in hand to welcome Gunny to his new home after an extended hospital stay.
“It warms your heart when you can come together for a cause despite everybody’s different backgrounds and busy schedules and put something together that makes somebody’s life a little bit better,” said Wilburn.
It was a welcome fit for a hero.
“It gives us a chance to honor a guy who at 17… 18 years of age was doing things that most of us couldn’t even imagine… He’s earned this, you know, with his service and the things that he’s done, he’s earned it,” said Wilburn.
But dare you mention the word “hero” to Gunny, and he’ll tell you it’s a title reserved only for those who never made it home.
Still, he admits he’s prayed for help for years and had faith that a day like now would finally arrive.
“For them to do that for someone they’ve never met before, it’s a good feeling. It really is,” said Gunny.
Wilburn said Gunny’s home renovation is one of the two largest projects the V.R.O.C. has taken on.
The non-profit opened its doors in February of 2019 to meet the needs of veterans and provide services like food assistance, counseling, job readiness, transportation and medical and legal assistance.