Salvaged Goods

Those deployed on Operation: Big Little Blue in Nebraska had the pleasure of serving WWII veteran Bob Hayes after severe flooding struck the region last week.

On May 12, we started the interior demolition on the first home in Deshler, NE. It’s been the home of Bob Hayes for over 50 years. He originally served in the Army Air Force at the end of WWII, spending time stationed in Alaska. In 1947, when the Air Force was recognized as new branch of service, Bob transitioned and remained in the USAF.

Bob is the kind of down-to-earth Nebraskan you always hear about – kind, honorable, and never knows when to slow down. I visited the work site and found him standing in the basement making sure each volunteer was doing alright as they were tackling the task at hand. As he came back up the stairs to meet me he proclaimed, “I better get out of the basement, or I will get in trouble.” I stated he was free to go wherever our volunteers were, and just asked him to be safe. He wasn’t too concerned with us, it was his grand kids who had told him he was not allowed in the basement.


Bob did not ask us for help, but all of his neighbors told us to go see him. He told me he was glad we had come by, because people were telling him to talk to us, and he just hadn’t gotten around to it yet.

On May 13, we completed the interior demolition of his home. While we were cleaning out the basement, we came across an Air Force Cover, some uniform emblems, and command patches. They had been pretty well washed in the muck and the mire, and we couldn’t find any local company to clean them, so we decided with our military uniform experience we would do it ourselves. It was a more intimate process knowing we shined his brass and scrubbed his cover until it looked like it had never experienced a flood.

20150513_140731Bob was overwhelmed upon receiving the items, insisting we should not give him anything and that he owed us. Bill McPherson, County EM, is also an Air Force Veteran, so this led to a rousing back-and-forth on how every branch but the Coast Guard was represented. It was a wonderful experience.

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