ROANE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — Members of a Roane County church are trying to shine a light on one of their own by starting a project for a Marine Corps veteran who’s come across some hard times.
The project is called “Love In Action: Project Virgil.”
When members of Luminary United Methodist Church of Ten Mile realized that one of their own was living in not the best conditions, they decided to do something about it.
“Virgil is a Marine Corps veteran, a Vietnam Marine Corps Veteran,” said Bill Hughes, who’s helping to spearhead the project.
“We don’t want to put his picture out there or use his last name or anything like that because we just want to protect him,” he added.
Virgil didn’t always live in these conditions.
“Before he went into the Marine Corps he was a high school basketball star,” said Hughes. “He graduated from high school and got a job as a police officer.”
Virgil hoped to have a career as an officer, but life had a different plan.
“Well, then he got drafted, the only year the Marine Corps drafted anyone, and of course the Vietnam War was going on then,” Hughes explained. “Virgil was a big boy so they made him a military police, an MP.”
According to Hughes, Virgil was guarding the gate of a Vietnamese civilian compound when it was attacked.
Since there was nothing he could do to stop them, Virgil ran across a small bridge to find safety. With bullets hitting the bridge behind and around him he jumped into the creek and swam to overhanging bushes for cover. He remained submerged with only his head above water for two days until it was safe to come out.
“He got like three different awards while he was in the Marine Corps,” said Hughes. “He got back to the states and things looked to be fine and he joined the police department but then he started having flashbacks.”
Now, Virgil is 75 years old and unable to work. His only income is social security and all he owns is two acres of land and what’s on it.
“He comes to church every week,” explained Hughes. “He has no running water, hasn’t had for six or seven years. So he comes to the church and showers four times a week. Very gentle guy. He comes upstairs to the clothes closet and we supply him with clothing and bags of food.”
Now the church is taking it one step further. They’ve started a GoFundMe in hopes of building him a home he can be proud of.
“To see him living like this, the way he lives is just unacceptable for a Marine Corp veteran in the United States of America,” said Hughes.
They’re hoping to give something more to a person who gave his all for our country.
Their goal is to raise $60,000 to help build Virgil a home on his two-acre property. If you would like to donate you can click here.