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A heart-warming experience for a soldier

It was one of the most touching sights I've ever seen in my life.

Dozens of soldiers came to the rescue of a fellow soldier - one badly injured in a war - to help him build a new home in nearby Harlem. Former military members and community volunteers also showed up to lend their help.

All of their efforts were to help Darryl Wallace, now a retired sergeant with the U.S. Army, who lost both of his legs in an improvised explosion in June 2007 while on a mission in Afghanistan. Sgt. Wallace also is a former graduate of Thomson High School and was raised in McDuffie County.

I was there when the first wall of Sgt. Wallace's home went up and there when many more of those walls went up, too. It was an inspiring thing to see - people helping a special man and his family.

Sgt. Wallace, whose new brick home is expected to be completed within 90 days, is the second such home in Georgia to be built for double-amputee military personnel wounded in time of war by a group known as Homes for Our Troops, which is based in Massachusetts.

Brian Reed is heading up that group's efforts. He and members of the group are to be highly-commended for what they are doing for Sgt. Wallace. Since Homes for Our Troops was first founded, 41 other military wounded Americans also have been provided homes. Their first home was built in Douglasville, Ga. Sgt. Wallace's home is actually the second one to be built in the Peach State, Mr. Reed said.

The Wallace home is being constructed in a new subdivision in Harlem - just a few miles from where Darryl grew up on County Line Road in McDuffie County.

Darryl, his wife, Tiffany and their son, Chase, are most deserving recipients of this new home. For the past several months, they have been living on base at nearby Fort Gordon. And before Darryl went overseas, the family lived in a single-wide mobile home on land owned by Darryl's grandparents, who raised him.

The Wallace family is a loving family - one most deserving of a new home when you consider the sacrifices that Sgt. Wallace made so that we might continue being free Americans. He gave much, while others gave everything to protect our freedoms - their lives.

I've gotten close to the Wallace family since Darryl got injured. They are wonderful people.

Former Thomson Police Officer Jesse Bowman, the new chief of the Harlem Department of Public Safety, said he was "very pleased" to see the outpouring of love in his community for Sgt. Wallace and his family.

"It's great to see our community showing such tremendous support for this family," Chief Bowman said. "It's great to be in a community where people really care about one another."

Web posted on Thursday, April 30, 2009

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