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The Unsung: Neighbors rebuild home of 93-year-old veteran

Allen Wastler

Posted on December 15, 2017

Allen Wastler is a former financial journalist with over 30-years of experience, including time at CNBC, CNN, and Knight-Ridder Newspapers.
African-American World War Two veteran in street clothes

He served his country during one of its most trying and crucial battles: D-Day. And now his Miami community is paying Charles Adderley, they city’s oldest World War II veteran, back. 

“We all came to Mr. Adderley’s home to help somebody that has spent his entire life helping others, whether it was his time in the military, his time as father, as a community member, as a church member,” Miguel Pen͂a, a neighbor, told MassMutual.

Pen͂a is one of the volunteers that banded together to repair Adderley’s house, which had deteriorated extensively over the years. The community effort was not only an act of kindness, but also in recognition of the Adderley’s service.

After joining the Army as a 17 year old, Adderley was one of the 150,000 soldiers that stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. He earned two U.S. commendations as well as France’s Legion of Honour. In subsequent fighting against the Nazis over the French countryside, Adderley was wounded. He was eventually discharged in 1946.

“Even at 93, he’s an incredible, incredible man,” Pen͂a said. “He takes what happened yesterday and he'll tell you about it and it will sound like an incredible day. And every day for him is. It’s an amazing day because that’s what he chooses to experience it as. And that’s something that is contagious, and he shares that with everybody.”

Beyond home repair, the effort made for some lasting friendships between Adderley and members of the Miami community.

“He’s a beacon of light,” Daren Davis, a lieutenant in the Miami Fire Department and one of the volunteers who worked on Adderley’s home, told MassMutual. “I always tell him that. He’s the one positive thing that we have going here right now in this moment. And I think this story should be shared … what people who come around are willing to do. So the story doesn’t end when the house is done. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t end, because I made a new friend and I can use him to inspire other people.”

Adderley has been staying temporarily in a hotel as repairs are ongoing. A GoFundMe page has been established to fund the repairs.

"With everything that’s going on now around us in the nation, we need to work together,” Davis added. And we need to do it more often, for things like this, to help people that need help.”

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