Volunteers gift home repairs, smiles to disabled veteran

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN)  —  Franky Horton, 72, was born in a house on Canterbury Street in the Holly neighborhood. It’s the place he still calls home today. But, Horton is a disabled veteran and the upkeep of his home gets more challenging as he grows older. He was delighted when a group of Home Depot and Meals on Wheels volunteers chose his home as one of the veteran houses in Austin they’d help to spruce up. 

The volunteers touched up his roof, made replacements to his water heating system, landscaped his yard, made a flower bed with rose bushes and installed an American flag on his porch.

“It looks good, they all give compliments on my flower bed,” Horton said with a smile, looking out at his new yard.

Horton served in the Air Force for two years. He enlisted because his brother was also in the service. He was in the Air Force until a life-altering accident cut his time in the military short. At that time he was stationed for two years at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in North Carolina working as a firefighter. 

Franky Horton in a wheelchair in the 1960's as he was recovering from an accident on the Air Force Base. (Photo Courtesy Franky Horton). 

One day in October 1967, Horton was a passenger in a car with a few of his fellow firefighters when they were called back to the base for an emergency airplane landing. 

As they were driving back, the car somehow drove into a bridge. One of Horton’s friends was killed and Horton went to the hospital with serious injuries. 

He spent nearly a year in the hospital. He lost one eye completely and lost almost all his vision in another. He needed a large portion of his skull replaced, and he had ruptures in his stomach. 

“I’ve come a long way since I got hurt, I couldn’t walk or nothing,” Horton said.

After he was discharged, Horton moved back home to Austin where his mom helped to take care of him. 

He’s been on disability since then and while many daily tasks became challenging, he found joy working at the coffee shop at the nearby VA hospital. 

Now he likes to spend time going walking on Austin’s Hike and Bike trail every day. 

Sometimes as he’s walking, he’ll chant to himself the songs they used sing on the base. 

“Two, three, four, give me your left, your right, your left,” he chanted as he walked down the path to his home.  

Horton is especially delighted by the American flag the volunteers installed on his porch. After his walks, he’ll sit outside with his dog Buffy and admire the red, white and blue.

“It means a lot to me because it means we’re in a free country,” Horton said.

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