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New roof for local Vietnam vet's home

Dylan Goetz • Jun 12, 2018 at 12:00 PM

SPRING LAKE — Vietnam veteran and Spring Lake resident Ken Retsema received a new roof Monday, thanks to four organizations that came together to give back to those who have served their country.

Owens Corning — a national roofing company that manufactures insulation, roofing and Fiberglas — partnered with Tri-Cities Area Habitat for Humanity to find a candidate for the nationwide Roof Deployment Project. The project selects one veteran each year and puts a new roof on his or her home.

“It’s all about giving back,” said David Sbraccia, an Owens Corning representative. “We always want to give back and this is the best way to do it.”

West Michigan Roofing and Construction, a platinum contractor of Owens Corning, installed the roof. The Grand Haven Housing Services department also provided Retsema with two grants to cover additional costs associated with water leaking in his home’s bathroom and a rebuilt fascia.

“I am really grateful for everyone who helped out on this project,” Retsema said. “The support is a beautiful thing.”

Retsema’s roof was caving in near the bathroom and in the garage, which caused multiple leaks. Retsema, a member of the Charles A. Conklin American Legion post in Grand Haven, was chosen the day after Beth Hanis, executive director at the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, spoke at the American Legion to find a candidate.

Retsema was drafted into the military and deployed to Vietnam from June 1968 to June 1969. As a radiotelephone operator for the U.S. Army, he carried a backpack radio for military communications. This sometimes meant Retsema was a greater target for the enemy, he said.

Retsema received a Purple Heart after being shot in the neck and finding shrapnel in his leg from his time in the Army.

“This is just amazing,” Retsema said, as the West Michigan Roofing workers installed shingles. “This crew is so efficient. They know what they are doing.”

Mike Megna, co-owner of West Michigan Roofing and Construction, said the company enjoys taking part in this program.

“(Retsema) is very well-deserving,” he said. “He’s a great guy.”

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