The Valdosta Daily Times
During World War II, flight engineer Tech Sgt. Ormond Rolfe participated in 31 bombing missions over “Fortress Europe” — his B-17 Flying Fortress hit each of those 31 times — yet the crew of 10 always made it safely back to England, thanks largely to the flight engineer who put out fires and kept the plane flying.
After the House of Heroes repaired his home and cleared his yard Tuesday, the decorated veteran carried out his “32nd mission,” helping to launch the South Georgia Chapter of House of Heroes.
Wayne Anthony, founder and president of House of Heroes headquartered in Columbus, Ga., said the nonprofit organization helps military and public-safety veterans (and their spouses) who are disabled, living on a fixed income, or facing other physical/financial challenges. Volunteers perform minor repairs and make improvements to the homes of veterans and their spouses — at no cost to the veteran.
About 50 volunteers, including youth at Lake Park United Methodist Church, where Anthony is pastor, came out to do yard work and clean the house. A dumpster overflowed with yard debris. Contractors volunteered their time in advance to work on plumbing and electrical issues and relocate the utility room, and were putting in new flooring in the kitchen and dining rooms Tuesday afternoon.
Anthony said House of Heroes could not do the work without the generosity of individuals, civic organizations, and corporations.
Locally, those assisting with the project were Home Depot, Carter Construction, Kellerman Construction, MS Plumbing, Welch Air Conditioning, Turner Electrical, On Time Builders, Carter Painting, Hobby Lobby, and Allgreen Services LLC. National sponsor is Char-Broil.
South Georgia Founding Sponsor First State Bank and Trust in Valdosta donated $3,500 to launch the South Georgia Chapter of House of Heroes.
“We think it is a great project for the bank to be a part of, part of our alliance with Moody Air Force Base in the community,” said First State Bank and Trust President Bill Cowart. “What better project could you be a part of than one that honors our American heroes, our military?”
Rolfe, the first South Georgia recipient of House of Heroes, and his family were honored at a ceremony Tuesday afternoon at Lake Park United Methodist Church. As Anthony presented Rolfe a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in a window box with his medals, Anthony said, “On behalf of the Congress of the United States and a grateful nation, this gift for you for your gift to us.”
Rolfe’s missions during the Battle of Normandy protected Allied troops from a massive counterattack from seven Panzer Divisions, according to Anthony.
“Nazi war machines controlled the sky,” he said. “The Americans were asked to come over and to bomb the factories and airfields in Germany. There was no air protection. Half the people killed in WWII were in planes. In October 1943, one of every two planes didn’t come back. The guys who flew (held back) the Panzer Divisions until we could get landed.”
Rolfe’s awards include seven Air Medals and four Bronze Stars, as well as the WWII Victory Medal.
When asked if he were ever afraid, he replied, “You’d have to be an idiot not to.”
What kept him on an even keel was, he said, “I wanted to serve my country. It wasn’t that I was brave. It was just the way it was back in 1944.”
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