Vietnam vet wheels around to help tornado victims - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Vietnam vet wheels around to help tornado victims

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March 25, 2003

Camilla - They don't ask for money and they always seem to have a smile on their face. If it weren't for volunteers, tornado victims would have a tough time getting back on their feet.

William Ethridge is not your typical volunteer. He says, "You do the best you can, I'll put it that way."

Ethridge is in a wheelchair, lending a hand in Camilla. He points to his body, "Yeah it's good for me, I feel good. From here up I'm good, from here down, heck."

Sitting in a chair hasn't stopped him from cleaning up tornado debris. Ethridge explains, "Now I know what Ground Zero looks like after we dropped bombs on it, cause I never saw the other end of it."

Ethridge was a Crew Chief on a Fighter Bomber in Vietnam. He adds, "I've had all the survival training with the military, so why not put it to good use."

He has all the symptoms of Agent Orange. His right leg was amputated last year and he just got out of the hospital three weeks ago after a partial foot amputation. Ethridge explains, "It's hard, but I don't let it bother me. I just get out here and do what I can do. I think if I can get out here others can come out here too."

Ethridge traveled with other volunteers from Moultrie's First Baptist Church. The Vietnam veteran has seen a lot of hardship in his military life, but he admits seeing the twister's path is an eye-opening experience.

The Chamber of Commerce is organizing a Community Service Day on Saturday to help tornado victims clean up. To register go to the old Train Depot or call the Chamber of Commerce in Camilla.

posted at 5:40PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com