Good News! Patriot Guard – Mission Accomplished!

Patriot Guard completes work on veteran’s house 

Oct 15, 2007 – 04:01:32 CDT

Mission accomplished! In three months time Bob Thorberg’s Mandan home has gone from a date with the wrecking ball to a little piece of heaven.  Back in June the Mandan city commission had gone as far as to award the demolition contract for Thorberg’s home, deeming the dilapidated structure a health hazard.Patriot Guard working on Living Room Patriot Guard at work in Living Room

Living Room Finished 

Living Room Finished

(North Dakota Patriot Guard photos were not part of the original story) 

 In stepped Rick Colling, upset with the situation surrounding the aging military veteran, he asked for the opportunity to restore the house into a home suitable for habitation. The city commission gave him that chance.  Colling, a member of the North Dakota Patriot Guard, asked the organization for help financially and in manpower. The organization responded with $3,750, which it requested that Colling match. He did far better, with $7,000 in cash donations and $14,300 in materials.

(Oldtimer’s Comment:  The you may have seen the Patriot Guard at work in your community – they are the patriot’s from around the country that show up on motorcycles  at military funerals and guard and honor our fallen heroes). 

Perhaps more importantly were the volunteer hours in doing the work. Colling, himself, has worked tirelessly on the project and has been the driving force, as the number of helping hands varied from day-to-day and dwindled the longer the project took.  “I more or less took a leave of absence from work and have been putting in 10 to 14 hour days, seven days a week,” Colling said. “I knew there was going to be a lot of work; what I didn’t know was how much time I’d have to put in.”

The 49-year-old Colling is originally from Bismarck, having moved to Mandan in 2004. He is self-employed as a life insurance agent.  The house, platted in 1889, was in extremely bad condition, Colling said. It had to be gutted and reconstructed. The exterior was reshingled, got new siding and soffit, windows, and the porch was rebuilt. The yard was cleaned. The furnace, dating back to the early 1900s, was replaced with a new forced central air system.

The hardest part was the deconstruction. More than 120 cubic yards of debris was removed as the plaster and lattice came out.  Colling admitted there were days when he didn’t think it would get done. He set a lot of deadlines along the way and never met one. Except the last one.

“I wanted to be done by the pheasant opener and we are, with the exception of a few odds and ends. Bob’s ready to start moving in,” Colling said. “I wanted to see this finished, and that’s what kept me going.”

A lot of credit goes to Craig Haug, Matt Hartl, Randy Lindberg, Darcy Ritter, Tara Hartl and Susan Beehler, according to Colling. They have been the steadiest volunteers, and the expertise they’ve brought has been invaluable.

“The guys that have stuck with it are those that like to do this kind of work. They take a lot of pride in their work and don’t do anything halfway,” Colling said.

The reconstruction of his home has been an ordeal for Thorberg. Two of his three dogs had to be destroyed and the pup given a new home. Not long after this, early in August, Colling found Thorberg sleeping in his bed in the basement unresponsive and nearly comatose. Thorberg was taken to the hospital and was found to be suffering from a blood-borne infection.

Since his release from the hospital, Thorberg has been staying at the Lewis and Clark Hotel, building his strength and awaiting for the chance to move back into the only home he’s ever known.

“Bob’s wishes are to live here, but I’m not so sure how long that might be,” Colling said.

Colling described Thorberg as a bit of a curmudgeon and not always easy to work around. But Thorberg said he’s extremely appreciative of what’s being done for him.

“It’s heaven,” is how Thorberg described the work done on his house. “There’s still a few things to be done, but we’ll take care of that. There have been a lot of people around helping, but not like Rick. He made this all possible.”

The toughest part of the whole process has been all the moving around he’s had to do, Thorberg said.

“First it was upstairs, then downstairs. Then I had to go to the hospital, and now I’m over at the Lewis and Clark,” Thorberg said. “My health is still a problem, but we’ll get that resolved. I was one sick turkey, and I don’t have my strength yet. It’s going to take time to recover.”

Though the construction work is almost done, Colling and some of the other volunteers won’t just be walking away. Colling said he and a few of the others have become fast friends with Thorberg and intend on keeping in touch and checking up on Bob, likely on a weekly basis.

Colling never served in the military, but said he understands the sacrifices the veterans and their families have made. This project is Colling’s way of trying to repay those veterans for the freedom they’ve protected.

The North Dakota Patriot Guard – 

Heroes helping and   honoring Heroes.

Thank you Rick, Teri, and all those others working on this project.  The Patriot Guard Rides again!!!



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