By Steve Tawa

 

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GIBBSTOWN, N.J. (CBS) — They are the heroes who may live in your neighborhood.

United States military veterans look out for each other.  And in Gibbstown, they are looking up to one particular World War II vet.

Wheelchair-bound US Navy veteran Ray Oswald, now 88, hadn’t been out of his Gibbstown home for eight months.   The steps leading to his front door were insurmountable in his wheelchair.

(Ray Oswald.  Photo by Steve Tawa)

(Ray Oswald. Photo by Steve Tawa)

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But now, he’s free to come and go, thanks to the group “Veterans Helping Veterans” and workers from the South Jersey stores of a national hardware chain.

They built and installed a ramp attached to the front door of his Ladner Avenue ranch home.  It’s about 8 feet by 22 feet, of pressure-treated lumber.

They even surprised him with an electric wheelchair.

(Photo by Steve Tawa)

(Photo by Steve Tawa)

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One of the organizers was Bob Harris, with South Jersey Vietnam Vets.

“This is all we do,” he said with pride.  “We get donations in, we get wheelchairs out.  We don’t charge anything.  It’s all donated to us.”

Corey Lilliston, district manager for Home Depot, brought volunteers with skills.  “And they have extensive background in carpentry and construction,” he said.

Ray Oswald — whose friends call him “Ozzie” — went into the Merchant Marines at 16, joined the Navy at 17½, and served 3½ years in World War II.  He then went back to serve in the Korean War, as an electrician’s mate.

Ozzie says he is delighted with his new wheelchair ramp.

“Oh, it’s a godsend.  It really is,” he told KYW Newsradio, adding that he was grateful that everyone bent over backward for him.

 

 

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