NORWALK – A Los Angeles-based plumbing company surprised a local Vietnam veteran last Saturday with a fully-funded trip to Washington D.C. after the Norwalk resident shared his lifelong dream with the workers that rehabbed his home.
A crew of employees from Twin Home Experts cheered and whistled as 67-year-old Brian Unzicker walked out his front door and onto the porch of his Norwalk house.
“I always have something to say, but I am truly overwhelmed,” said Unzicker, wiping tears from his eyes.
A longtime Norwalk homeowner, Unzicker recently decided to leverage the equity in his house so he could pay for an overdue vacation to the nation’s capital.
“There’s a lot to see on the east coast like Civil War battlefields,” he said. “But the wall at the Vietnam Memorial is what I’d most like to see.”
Unzicker served in Vietnam for 13 months starting in 1969 and has never had the financial means to see the national memorial dedicated to his fallen comrades.
“I wanted to get a reverse mortgage to pay for the trip, but I had some mold and water damage in the house that needed to be addressed first,” he said.
Last month, workers at Twin Home Experts overheard him mention his dream of visiting the memorial as they fixed his home. Dave Schuelke, who co-owns the business with his twin brother Jim, said it was only fitting to cover the costs of Unzicker’s travel and accommodations.
“I heard the desperation in his voice when he called us for help to fix his home – and when he told us why, we wanted to do this for him to make a big difference in his life,” Dave Schuelke said. “This guy has got such a huge, huge heart and he was just so grateful for everything we did.”
And the Schuelkes’ went big with their surprise, lining Unzicker’s street with a dozen Twin Home Experts vehicles and smiling employees with U.S. flags in hand.
“They think I’m deserving of this and I’m not going to argue with them,” Unzicker said with a laugh. “I won’t turn down their generous offer – it means so much to me.”
Unzicker, who retired as a Teamsters truck driver in 2002, said he hopes to make his pilgrimage to Washington D.C. with his dog, Zoey, in spring 2017.