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Purple Heart Homes helps out NC veteran

Veteran Elzie Eugene Brown stands on the new deck that the Purple Heart Homes volunteer group built him behind his west Gastonia home on Saturday. [Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette/TNS]

A team of volunteers has rebuilt a deteriorating deck and landscaped at the home of a local military veteran.

Crews spent the weekend sawing, hammering and mowing away at Elzie Eugene Brown’s home in west Gastonia. The Korean War veteran, who grew up in Belmont and served in the U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955, has lived in the home since the 1960s.

But the back deck, which he built with his son-in-law years ago, has been deteriorating for years. And there was no ramp for his daughter to roll on with her wheelchair. Brown’s wife, Christine Brown, died in 2000, and he lives by himself.

So, Purple Heart Homes, in collaboration with The Home Depot, stepped in to help. They spent the past several days building him a new deck and ramp, installed a new interior door, and landscaped the backyard.

“It didn’t have that ramp in it, so now my kid can come up here in their wheelchair and see me,” Brown said, as he sat on his new deck Saturday afternoon. “It means a lot to me, it sure does.”

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Purple Heart Homes is based in Statesville and was founded in 2008. The nonprofit organization works to help improve the lives of veterans through initiatives such as home renovations.

They’ll also installed a new air conditioner for Brown to keep cool.

Brown decided to join the Navy after seeing a local recruiting office. He went home, told his parents he had enlisted and was off to boot camp in San Diego. In the service, he went to many countries and spent time aboard destroyers.

“I don’t recall all the countries I went in,” he said. “We’d seen countries through a porthole.”

He would then spend his career working as a mill supervisor and with Westinghouse before retiring in the 1980s.

He’s a member of the American Legion in Belmont.

And on Saturday, Brown enjoyed the backyard shade on his new deck looking out at his landscaped lawn.

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“They did a good job on all this stuff. And I appreciate it,” he said.

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© 2019 Gaston Gazette