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Korean War veteran Herb Wong surprised with home renovations

A Korean War veteran was surprised with home renovations. This was his reaction.

Korean War veteran Herb Wong, 87, thought he was just going out to develop photos with a friend. When he came home, he was surprised with new siding, lights and doors on his home in State College with the help of volunteers and Home Depot.
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Korean War veteran Herb Wong, 87, thought he was just going out to develop photos with a friend. When he came home, he was surprised with new siding, lights and doors on his home in State College with the help of volunteers and Home Depot.

Korean War veteran Herb Wong was greeted by about a dozen people at his home on Friday afternoon.

The 87-year-old was surprised to find out that they’d been doing work around his house — including replacing the siding and garage door, adding exterior lighting and painting.

Kerry DuBois said Wong, a family friend, was worried about getting new siding, so DuBois reached out to a friend, Todd Ripka of Westside Repair, to see how much the work would cost.

Ripka went to look at materials at Home Depot, where he discovered the company was looking for a veteran to help, DuBois said.

It’s nice to see the community come together to do this, she said.

“He’s so deserving,” DuBois said.

Wong, a Marine scout who was awarded the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Ribbon, moved to State College in 1970 and opened the first Chinese restaurant, Suzie Wong’s Egg Rolls, which his family still runs.

“I’m glad I was able to defend my country for people like this,” he said. “It makes me very proud to be an American.”

DuBois said Wong went to stay with a friend for a few days while the work took place so that they could surprise him.

American Legion Post 245 in State College, of which Wong is a member, applied for grant funding through Home Depot’s Celebration of Service project, which works to complete projects for aging, combat-wounded and homeless veterans.

Wong was the “perfect candidate,” Julie Kanouff, of the State College Home Depot, said, adding that Home Depot provided $2,300 in grant funding for materials.

“It’s great. It’s my second year in a row doing this,” Kanouff said. “And I just love to help them, and I love to see their faces once it’s complete. It’s just very fulfilling.”

Central PA Dock and Door donated the garage door and time to install it, and Primanti Bros. donated food for the volunteers.

Several of the volunteers working on Wong’s house were also veterans.

Sarah Rafacz: 814-231-4619, @SarahRafacz

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