Volunteers help rehab Korean War vet's Santa Clara house

Each brush stroke on a modest one-story home in Santa Clara helps cover the debilitating effects of time. And, it helps peel away the story of the decades-long journey of homeowner, Don Murphy.

"It’s just wonderful to see all these people. And they’re all so happy and enjoying themselves. That’s great," he said.

At 93, Murphy is spending Veterans Day watching the work, and telling the volunteers the path that brought him to the South Bay.

Originally a native of the Midwest, Murphy enlisted in the service during the Korean War. He says a sense of civic duty led him to serve from 1952-1954.

"The United States had to be on its toes watching the borders on the north and the south, and the west…we had to protect our country," said Murphy.

A chance encounter and scholarship competition with soon-to-be astronaut Neil Armstrong sent the former to the moon. Earthbound Murphy was tasked with securing the border by maintaining radar installations. He first worked in Biloxi, Mississippi, and then, in the west, in Madera, California.

Veteran of the Korean War Don Murphy. For this neighbor, now in his ninth decade of life, it’s his time to receive, after giving to the country and community for most of his life.

His two years of active duty service eventually led to an honorable discharge, and life in the South Bay, where he worked for multiple companies, including Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and Westinghouse. Now, years of wear have left his house in disrepair.

"This house needed a lot of TLC. Probably more than we’re gonna be able to do as volunteers today," said Terry Keisic, a board member of Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley.

Rotting wood, led paint mitigation, landscaping, and more needs to be done. So, for six hours, 18 volunteers from Lockheed Martin and Applied Materials worked with Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley, to tackle this chore.

"The fact that Don worked in the rocket business, and had that fun story with Neil Armstrong, just felt like a match made in heaven," said Liz Johnson, a volunteer from Lockheed Martin. Added Rebuilding Together Silicon Valley Development Director Alaina Purcell Schroeder, "It just means a lot to me to be part of this project today, the Lockheed Martin team giving back to a neighbor in need."

For this neighbor, now in his ninth decade of life, it’s his time to receive, after giving to the country and community for most of his life.

"They came through with a project for me, and that helps a lot," said Murphy.

Jesse Gary is a reporter based in the South Bay bureau. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter), @JesseKTVU and on Instagram, @jessegontv


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