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Home Depot serves Dawson veteran
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Walter Victor

Dawson Countys oldest World War II veteran, Walter Victor, once had great difficulty navigating his way up several steps to get from his driveway to his front porch.

And on that front porch were several screens with holes that needed repair.

Being the self-reliant man that he is, Victor, 97, made his way to Home Depot to buy screens to fix it.

Hes in here all the time as a customer, Dawsonville Home Depot Store Mangager Steve Mitchell said. When we found out what project he was working on, we decided we could do better than just sell him the screen material.

Mitchell and his team put together a PowerPoint presentation sharing with Home Depots associates Victors backstory and how he received his Medal of Honor during the Normandy invasion in June 1944 -- the medal he carries even today in his pants pocket.

Six people volunteered two days of their own time, without pay, to help Victor.

If anyone deserves credit for this, its our team that spent two long, hot days out there working, Mitchell said.

Those team members are Dennis Johnson, Bill Sholtz, Lou Ann McWaters, Greg Heiman, David West and John Cramblett.

Anytime that were looking to do a Home Depot project, we target our veterans, Mitchell said. We recognize the service they did. We realize we wouldnt get to operate our stores had it not been for the men and women who served our country.

Before Home Depots efforts, Ruth, Victors wife of 63 years, described how she helped Walter up the stairs.

Sometimes as he was coming up, hed point his cane at me, and Id grab one end of it and pull him along, she said. Hes heavy.

Other times, she didnt help at all.

I worried about him all the time, but I dont go out there and help him, Ruth Victor said. If I did that, Id be taking away his dignity and his independence.

People, Ruth said, dont understand that part.

If I do everything for him, like when were out shopping, he starts relying on me and stops relying on himself, she said. You dont get to be as old as we are, honey, without figuring things out.

Home Depots team replaced all the screens on the Victors two porches, installed and painted three new screen doors, and built a ramp that lets Victor go straight from his golf cart into his house -- in only one step.

I used to fall down a lot, Victor said. But now I dont.

Victor has many war stories to tell. During World War II, he once arrested two German spies, safely escorted the White House Chief of Staff through enemy lines, had a faulty German bomb land only yards from his head, and oversaw 250 Polish workers forced to make German bombs.

So now hes ready to demonstrate his newest skills.

You see that? he said, clasping the ramp railing and pulling himself along. You see that? I can do it without Ruth.

And to prove his point, he went up and down the ramp, twice, unaccompanied.

And you wanna know something else? said Victor, who still speaks fluent Polish. I told those Polish workers to twist the wires a certain way so the bombs wouldnt go off.

The cost of Home Depots materials for Victors project? Nearly $6,000. The cost to the Victors? Zero. The results of Victors service to our country? Immeasurable.

For the folks at Home Depot?

It was a no-brainer, Mitchell said.