Grand Strand veteran’s Purple Heart taken during eviction; community rallies around him

Community concerned after Vietnam vet evicted from apartment

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) – It a Facebook post that’s gone viral over the past 24 hours, a neighbor of a retired Vietnam War veteran sharing his displeasure with the way a Carolina Forest apartment complex treated the vet and his belongings after being evicted for late rent payments.

There’s been a huge outpouring of support for the retired U.S. Marine, not only from fellow veterans but complete strangers.

Tom is now recovering in temporary housing and said he’s simply thankful for all those willing to lend him a helping hand.

“Seeing this happen to him is like watching it happened to one of my own grandparents and it doesn’t feel good,” said neighbor Kevin Riera.

Riera is the one who posted the pictures to Facebook, saddened by the way the veteran and his belongings were treated.

“To just put his stuff out, I don’t know what their policies are or if that’s what they’re allowed to do but it sucks,” said Christopher Trinemeyer with Operation Veteran Reintegration.

Trinemeyer was one of the first to step in and help protect Tom’s belongings while he recovered from a medical emergency at the hospital.

“For the savages and vultures that came and took his property, karma,” said Trinemeyer.

Tom returned on Thursday morning to Canterbury Apartments to collect what remained of his belongings including several photos of his time in the military.

“I’m proud of being a Marine, there’s over thousands of others, but Army, Navy, Air Force they all step up,” said Tom.

Even in times away from combat, fellow vets are still serving one another like Tom through difficult times.

“As long as we know there are veterans in need the veteran community will never turn their back on a veteran in need,” said Chuck Hooks, an American Military Family volunteer.

While most of his items can be replaced one item believed to have been stolen was Tom’s Purple Heart.

To those who might have taken it, Tom has one simple plea.

“Do what you think is right,” said Tom.

Several veteran support organizations were able to pack up Tom’s belongings on Thursday night and are working to get him back to his family in New York.

WMBF News reached out to Canterbury Apartments, who are preparing to release a statement in regard to the situation.

They said, “Due to the nature and sensitivity of the matter, it is taking us time to ensure we’re delivering facts in a thoughtful manner.”

Stay with WMBF News as we’ll continue to bring you the latest updates on this story.

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