Tag Archives: Mandan

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!!!


North Dakota Veteran’s Home under Demolition Threat

This is a real sad situation, but there is hope. 

Bob Thorberg is a veteran that may soon be homeless without a lot of help.  He owns and lives in a house in Mandan, N.D. which has fallen into serious disrepair through lack of funds and through his inability to take care of it due to illness.   The City has issued demolition orders, but… wait! There is help!  The North Dakota Patriot Guard has ridden in to help.   You may associate these fine people with the groups of men and women that attend military funerals at the invitation of the family to act as a honor guard and protector.  Now they have a HOTH – Help on the Homefront organization with a mission to help veterans in need.

HOTH on Bob's roofSo far they have convinced the city to give them a few days.   They have also mustered volunteers for labor and collected donations and done some major cleanup around the property, inside and out – picture at the left.  They have enlisted the aid of professional volunteers and paid labor for electrical, plumbing, and heating.   They are collecting funds for materials and labor where volunteers are not suitable.   They have perhaps half of what they need.   And, they seem to only have a few days to get the rest.

I’ve read the city’s meeting notes on this issue, read the news articles and looked at the local TV station’s video – this is indeed a worthy cause.  If you can help out with a donation, you will possibly keep one more worthy veteran, a warrior on hard times, from going homeless.   His living conditions are poor now, but if he loses this home, it could mean a cardboard box or doorway somewhere.  The Patriot Guard HOTH is providing crisis intervention here.  They are simply asking for help.

I’ve asked the city for a comment.  We need to reserve judgment until we hear from them as it seems they are cooperating by giving more time.  Right now this is not political, it is simply concerned citizens and a concerned veterans advocate organization driven by a need to do the right thing for a veterern in need.   Below is the Patriot Guard’s Mission Statement and letter requesting help.


Mission Statement

Our other mission is HELP ON THE HOMEFRONT. It is the intention of the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) to assist the Veteran’s community by taking a proactive role in the lives of our Veterans and the societies they protect and defend. The PGR wishes to serve all heroes, not only the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice but also those whose lives have been forever changed by the actions and events of his service to the United States of America. The physical condition of some of these Veterans often creates overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable challenges. Often, they will struggle with issues interfering with sense of pride, accomplishment, and personal satisfaction. For most life will never be the same. It is our intention and vision to secure a place in our communities that will continue to honor and assist these heroes with the dignity and respect they deserve. They are true American heroes who must overcome their disabilities. They are our friends, family members and neighbors; it is an honor to be in their confidence. This confidence must not be taken lightly. We should visit and befriend these Veterans. We should be waiting with open arms to help them. Finally, we must maintain this sacred trust we develop for as long as these Veterans need us, up to and including a lifetime if the need exists. PGR’s Help On The Homefront means a great deal of comfort and success to the Veterans who are now faced with living a very different life than the rest of us. It is our hope that any PGR who cannot make honor missions due to work commitments, financial reasons, or family duty may find in this program, an avenue to support our Veterans and their families at a time when they most it. It is with the support of our ever-growing membership, Government coordination, and the mutual support and respect of other organizations, that the PGR Help On The Homefront program is a success.

Statement of the Problem – Veteran in Trouble


The North Dakota Patriot Guard’s (HOTH) program is on a mission, and we need your help.

Robert Thorberg is soon to be 68 years old. He is a veteran of the US Army. He is alone and disabled. He is in the process of being forced out of his home. He seems to have been forgotten. He needs us.

Mr. Thorberg enlisted in the US Army in 1956. He received orders for his 4th tour of duty to go to Nuremberg, Germany. While serving in Germany he was in a car accident where his legs where severely injured. This ended his military career in 1974 two years short of full retirement.

Bob returned to US where he worked as a diesel mechanic and later owned a landscaping business until his legs got so bad he was unable to continue physical work of any kind. He had a hip replaced in 1994. He went into retail sales of landscaping supplies before fully retiring on disability and social security.

Bob’s parents previously owned the home. Over the last few years he has been unable to keep up with repairs on the home and he has been alone, without help. Living paycheck to paycheck he has been unable to hire help or even purchase supplies needed to make the repairs. One year ago he was contacted by the city and told that his neighbors were complaining about the condition of his home. He lives in a neighborhood where the homes are old, but most of them are restored and beautiful. Bob has beautiful homes on either side and across the street. Bob’s home is structurally sound, including the foundation, but needs repairs varying from a front porch taken down, siding, some new windows, finish sheet rocking and flooring inside. His only “family” is his 3 dogs (soon to be 2), and he has a difficult time to bend and pick up their waste. This created an odor that upset the neighbors. The dog kennel has now been moved away from the neighbor’s windows

In the last year Mr. Thorberg has managed to save up a little money and have the main structure’s shingling done, he has sheet rocked and insulated over ¾ of the house. He has also found someone to pick up the dog waste. However, the $2000 for materials he has to finish the work and his speed at which he is able too complete has not been enough to satisfy the city. The city commission voted to evict Bob and demolish his home. Keep in mind that Bob would still have his mortgage to pay after losing his home to the city’s hasty decision and lack of due process. 

The local Patriot Guard Riders seen this in the newspaper, met Bob, checked into his military background, and decided we must help this man. The city has said they will not pursue eviction and demolition for social and political reasons, giving us some time to assist Bob. The PGR is clear on the fact that we are not interested in getting involved in any scuffle with the city or getting into politics of any kind, but we want to help this veteran. That is our one and only mission.  

Bob has contacted other agencies for help but has been put on waiting lists and told that they are out of money for the year. He said he was taught to not trust anyone by the military and therefore now doesn’t trust his government or the Vet’s Administration. He has since agreed to go for disability reassessment at the Fargo VA hospital. We are going to take him to Fargo for an assessment at the Vet’s hospital. It’s a 200 miles trip one way and without help he has been unable to make the trip but with our assistance he is willing to go.

When flexing and doing range of motion with his knees, Bob can only bend both of his knees to about 80 degrees. His knees need replacement but he says he is afraid because he has been put under 4 times already and he worries about what he would be like after the next time.

The more time we (HOTH group) spend with Bob, the more we are getting to know him, and the more we are confident we are doing to right thing by reaching out to help him.  The other day when we returned his military ID we found him helping a neighbor lady with her electric lawn mower wheel. He was not kneeling; he was bending over to work on it turned on its side. The neighbor lady thanked us for helping Bob.

His income is Social Security of $666 and Military Disability just $464, in all about $1130. With this income he is able to live month to month but does not have much left over to save or put into any projects on his home. He lives paycheck to paycheck.

The PGR Help On The Homefront program in North Dakota would like to come to his aid. The HOTH group has gotten volunteers, donations of tools, time, talent, and even a little bit of money, but not enough. If you would consider supporting the North Dakota Patriot Guard Help On The Homefront program either by volunteering your time and labor, donating supplies, money, discount purchases from your business, a gift card, a coupon, etc. we will be able to turn this man’s life around.  We absolutely cannot turn our back on this man. He is the poster child for what HOTH is about. He is a veteran, alone, on a limited income, disabled, and on the verge of being homeless. He needs us, and we need to answer his call for help.

Please contact us if you are able to assist us in anyway.

Tarra Hartl, Help On The Homefront Coordinator   tarra@ndpatriotguard.org 

Rick Colling, Thorberg Project Lead  rcolling@bis.midco.net

To donate money via check: Make check payable to NORTH DAKOTA PATRIOT GUARD and email Tarra to get the mailing address.  

(Oldtimer:  She can also tell you how to set up and use paypal – the information is protected and I could not copy it – please contact Tarra).

Oldtimer’s note:  Please donate now.  This is a very time sensitive operation and the city is demanding that progress be shown within the 30 day window of opportunity.  That window is closing, so they need help now – today!