SAL squadron rehabs Gold Star Family’s house

SAL squadron rehabs Gold Star Family’s house

The parents of an Army staff sergeant from Malden, Ill., who was killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom have a renovated home thanks to the efforts of a nearby Sons of The American Legion squadron.

For several years, Squadron 1977 in New Lenox, Ill., has hosted an annual rib cookoff each summer, with the proceeds going to help out veterans’ causes.

“Last year, we raised over $20,000 and we bought Christmas presents for the veterans in (the Veterans’ Home at Manteno, Ill.),” said squadron historian Richard McGuire. “Plus we do a grocery run with Caring Patriots. … All that money generated from that event goes to those types of services.”

But McGuire wanted to do more.

“I’ve always wanted to reach out to a Gold Star Family to see if we could help out,” McGuire said.

McGuire contacted Denise Williams, president of the Illinois department of American Gold Star Mothers, who connected him with the parents of Staff Sgt. Lincoln Hollinsaid.

Hollinsaid was killed April 7, 2003, when the crane he was driving was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. He was 27.

“We were able to get some volunteers together and go out there in the end of September, early October, and do the yardwork for them,” McGuire said.

More work on the home was delayed over the winter, with Lincoln’s parents, Dan and Nancy, gone to visit family.

“That actually was a blessing in disguise because it gave me time to figure out how I was going to get volunteers, materials, and services out there to pull this off,” McGuire said.

“Right after Christmas, I thought it wasn’t going to happen. But things always work out. We were able to pull it off and do what we said we were going to do.”

With supplies from Home Depot and John Sales & Service Plumbing, McGuire and his group of volunteers were able to rebuild three decks, install ADA-compliant toilets and handicap assistance bars, repair a water line, trim trees and clean up landscaping at the Hollinsaid’s home.

McGuire said he and the squadron are already looking for another Gold Star Family to help.

“If we find somebody that needs some assistance, we’ll gladly help them again,” he said.

In the meantime, Squadron 1977 will be preparing for the seventh annual rib cook-off, coming up July 13 at Post 1977.

“Through all these experiences, I’ve realized how lucky we are that we have people like Sgt. Hollinsaid … how important it is that we have a strong military and how important it is that we support people that are involved in the military. This is my way of giving back,” McGuire said.