BERLIN, Conn. (WTNH)– Veterans Day is approaching and volunteers recently embarked on a special project to say “thank you” to a local member of the greatest generation.
This is no ordinary home improvement project. The digging and drilling, a show of gratitude for a very special 92-year-old man.
“I’m at a loss for words really, all I can say is they’re fantastic,” said Gene Polaske.
Gene Polaske is a member of the greatest generation. A marine who was training for a ground invasion of Japan in 1945, when the country surrendered ending World War II.
He traveled the globe…growing from a boy into a man.
“We shipped to the Mediterranean, we were out there for 6 months in 1948. July we were out there when Israel became a state,” said Polaske.
He returned to Connecticut, became a tool designer at New Britain Machine, and married Ramona, the love of his life.
He bought a Berlin home in 1960, the place where he would welcome his three sons.
Polaske lost his wife to Alzheimer’s in 2012. Living alone has had its challenges, especially when he had a hip replacement in June.
“I know there were things that needed to be done and I kept saying – nah – it’ll do,” said Polaske.
That’s where the Connecticut chapter of House of Heroes stepped in and stepped up.
“Our mission is to recognize, honor and serve military and public safety veterans and their surviving spouses for their sacrificial service to the nation,” said Dennis Buden.
Executive Director Dennis Buden says the organization provides one day of house projects for no cost.
“Since our founding in 2012, we’ve done 123 homes including this weekend’s homes,” said Buden.
Polaske represents the perfect recipient.
“We’re going to replace his deck and make his home safer and more accessible. It’s the least we can do,” said Buden.
With fewer worries on the home front, Polaske can focus on the important things like his grandchildren and his golf game.
He’s also occupied by memories…
“Remember those like they were yesterday,” said Polaske.
Of a time that was all about teamwork…honor…and bravery.
“If I had my life to live over again, I don’t think I’d change a thing. I’d do the same thing all over again,” said Polaske.
Leading up to Veterans Day, News 8 is sharing the stories of U.S. service members past and present, and their families.
Tune in Sunday, November 10th at 5:30 p.m. for our News 8 special: Veterans Voices — Honoring Those Who Serve.