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552nd Airmen aid local vet, POW

Members of the 552nd Air Control Networks Squadron install new storm windows on the Lamberts' home as part of the Rebuilding Together community service project. (US Air Force Photo courtesy of Airman First Class Taj V. Preciado)

Members of the 552nd Air Control Networks Squadron install new storm windows on the Lamberts' home as part of the Rebuilding Together community service project. (US Air Force Photo courtesy of Airman First Class Taj V. Preciado)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Thirty volunteer Airmen and civilians from the 552nd Air Control Networks Squadron recently spent the day repairing and renovating the home of 22-year Army veteran, Eugene Lambert. The volunteers worked with a national non-profit organization that assists elderly and low income homeowners with maintaining a safe and healthy home. Mr. Lambert and his wife, Jane, who are both well into their 70s, were thrilled to have the help and the company.

When Mr. Lambert was first approached by the organization he had few expectations.

"I thought they'd give us a paint job," he said, "and maybe a new storm door."

But the project-skills captains, Staff Sgt. Joshua Carel and Staff Sgt. James Gordon, were determined to do much more than the minimum.

They identified several additional repairs that could be made to the home. In addition to the paint job, the interior received new ceiling fans, CFL light bulbs, and kitchen cabinets. The exterior was outfitted with new storm windows, a wheelchair ramp, an automatic garage door and exterior carpet on the porch.

The Lamberts, who were thrilled with the outcome, also received a new washer/dryer unit and hot water heater.

"There aren't enough words to express it," Mr. Lambert said.

Mrs. Lambert then added, "we didn't know how big this would get."

Helping organizations assist thousands of people annually, but few have given as much to their community or their nation as Mr. Lambert. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 at the age of 15 and was able to serve for several months before his true age was discovered and he was discharged.

Two years later, when he was old enough, he signed up again and shipped off to Korea. After several months in theater, Mr. Lambert's unit was attacked and he was captured. He spent the next 18 months in a POW camp. Upon his release, Mr. Lambert took an intelligence job back in the United States and served for another 19 years.

While speaking with Mr. Lambert, there was one theme he kept touching upon: he was extremely grateful toward the Airmen who volunteered time, but also the Air Force as a whole. As he put it, "I'm extremely proud to be associated with the Air Force." He wanted to tell the Tinker community that "[Tinker] is one of the cleanest and nicest bases I've ever been around."