A Texas Marine started a GoFundMe campaign on Wednesday to assist a World War II veteran he had just met with his unpaid medical bills. As of Friday afternoon, the campaign had raised nearly $14,000.
The Marine, Guido Filippone, was leaving his VA appointment and happened upon an elderly vet wearing a World War II baseball cap and helped him to his car, Fox News reported.
“I immediately approached him and thanked him for his service,” Filippone said.
Always Faithful: Marine raises thousands of dollars for vet he just met https://t.co/NdyxL0f92C
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As the two men started chatting, Filippone discovered the man was a WWII vet named Mike Gazella.
“We got to talking and he told me he was drafted into the Army and he was stationed in Germany as the war was ending,” Filippone told Fox News.
Gazella was at the VA to see if the VA could cover the remaining balance of $4,000 from his prior surgeries.
Gazella, who uses a walker, had travelled over a half hour from Leander, Texas, to the clinic in Austin.
“If I had a checkbook, I would have given the money to him right there. I wouldn’t want a World War II vet to move on to the next phase of life in debt,” Filippone, who served from 2004 and 2008, said.
Filippone offered to help Gazella with the bill, but he quickly declined the offer.
So he decided to set up a GoFundMe and call on social media to help the WWII vet.
Filippone set up a seven-day campaign on the social media site and has already exceeded his $4,000 goal.
Within the first day of the campaign, Filippone had raised more than $11,000.
Gazella knew nothing about Filippone’s plan.
“I always say we already have the Greatest Generation — we should be the better generation. Never miss a chance to thank a veteran,” Filippone said.
“I could have easily just walked away and moved on. It’s nice to give back when you can,” Filippone said.
Filippone now has the challenge of finding the vet.
“I have to track this guy down. I know he goes to Starbucks every day in Leander — there’s only two Starbucks in Leander. I’m going to go to both, ask around and give him a check,” he added.