Volunteers surprise Korean War vet with manicured lawn, trip to D.C.


Highlights

About 50 people cleared away brush and trimmed trees as a way to say thank you to the Korean War veteran.

“It makes me cry with appreciation,” said Sherri Fowler, Waylon Griffin’s only daughter.

After many years, weeds and shrubs had overtaken Waylon Griffin’s yard in Central Austin. The 83-year-old Korean War veteran loves to garden, his daughter said. But as he’s gotten older, he struggles with balance, and it’s been hard to keep up.

The Austin Code Department had been notified about the home as it fell into disrepair. When officials discovered it was a veteran who lived there, instead of issuing tickets, they assembled a team to help.

On Sunday morning, while Griffin was off at his daughter’s house, a group of about 50 people, including youth volunteers from the Austin Police Department’s Explorers program and employees from Home Depot tended to the overgrown lawn, clearing away brush and trimming trees as a way to say thank you to a man who gave so much to his country.

“It makes me cry with appreciation,” said Sherri Fowler, Griffin’s only daughter, holding back tears. “I’m just so grateful.”

PHOTOS: Austin Police Explorers clean the yard of Korean War veteran

Home Depot supplied labor and materials as part of its Team Depot volunteer program, which supports community projects, particularly for veterans. The Explorers, a program that mentors kids on careers in law enforcement, led the work.

“It makes me feel really good because I know he served for us,” said 16-year-old Alyssa Mancias, a student at Brentwood Christian School who wants to be an FBI agent. “Now we are going to serve back.”

Griffin arrived after lunch with family, and he was surprised and overjoyed to see the tangle in his yard had been manicured and replaced by fresh flower beds.

“My goodness alive,” he said as he stepped onto his driveway. “It is totally unexpected.”

READ: Richard Overton, America’s oldest WWII veteran, turns 112

Honor Flight Austin also surprised Griffin, who goes by “Griff,” with a trip to Washington, D.C., as part of a program that escorts veterans through the nation’s capital for a powerful, healing experience it calls the “trip of a lifetime.”

Griffin will make the trip this fall.

“What a way to say thank you for the men and women of the Korean War that is said to be the forgotten war,” said Allen Bergeron, who works for the city’s veterans services office. “We are going to tell him that he is not forgotten and that we appreciate him.”

Griffin was a corporal in the U.S. Air Force from 1955 to 1959. He was stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base near Bossier City, La., where he kept track of all the bombers during the Korean War.

After he left the service, Griffin went back to school at the University of Texas and got his Ph.D. in marketing. He was a longtime professor at UT-Permian Basin before he retired to Austin.

Griffin has owned his home on West 48th Street since the late 1960s.

On Saturday, he looked at the property with light in his eyes.

“It hasn’t looked this good in years,” he said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

How Big Tech’s war on Alex Jones left First Reading pockmarked with Orwellian dead zones
How Big Tech’s war on Alex Jones left First Reading pockmarked with Orwellian dead zones

  Good day Austin: I’ve been in Austin five-and-a-half years. For the last couple of years I’ve had an obsessive interest in Alex Jones. This is important work, I tell myself. But I know the way other people look at me. I read the snide comments. I have been formally recognized for my obsession. I was named a ...
TRAFFIC ALERT: South I-35 frontage road closed in New Braunfels after 18-wheeler fire, police say
TRAFFIC ALERT: South I-35 frontage road closed in New Braunfels after 18-wheeler fire, police say

The south Interstate 35 frontage road at Walnut Avenue in New Braunfels was shut down on Tuesday morning after a fire broke out inside an 18-wheeler trailer, New Braunfels police said. Crews are cleaning up debris from the burnt trailer and police said the road will remain closed all morning. “The entire block in that area will remain closed...
FORECAST: High temperatures in the upper 90s in Austin on Tuesday, heat index of 103
FORECAST: High temperatures in the upper 90s in Austin on Tuesday, heat index of 103

Tuesday forecast for Austin: Austin is expected to see partly sunny skies and high temperatures in the upper 90s on Tuesday, National Weather Service forecasters said. Temperatures are expected to peak around 96 degrees during the day, then stay above 77 degrees at night, forecasters said. The heat index, or the “feels like” temperature...
OVERNIGHT: Critically injured teen taken to hospital after shooting, medics say
OVERNIGHT: Critically injured teen taken to hospital after shooting, medics say

A teenage boy was taken to Dell Seton Medical Center late Monday with critical injuries from a gun shot wound, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said. Medics were called out to the intersection of Barnes Trail and St. Merryn Road in Northeast Austin, near Harris Branch Parkway and U.S. 290, around 11:24 p.m. Monday. The boy, who is in his mid to late...
2 children, 3 adults injured after crash on Anderson Mill Road 
2 children, 3 adults injured after crash on Anderson Mill Road 

Two children and three adults were injured Monday night after a two-car crash on Anderson Mill Road, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said.  The two-vehicle collision happened around 9:10 p.m. in the 10400 block of Anderson Mill Road, about a mile west of U.S. 183, EMS officials said.  Nine people total were involved in the crash,...
More Stories