Community rallies around veteran whose home caught fire

'We will do anything we can'

HAMBURG, Pa. - The door of a nondescript house in Hamburg is boarded up and left vacant, but those who recently resided there still fill up a big space in the community.

"I was a little concerned, because I knew his daughter was not in good health, and Mr. Flickinger has been in a nursing home for quite some time," said Jennifer Naftzinger with the Hamburg VFW.

A fire broke out shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday at the home in the 200 block of State Street.

"Just shock and hoping that everyone was OK, and that they made it out and there wasn't too much damage," said Jen Kepner with the Hamburg VFW.

The home belongs to 95-year-old World War II veteran John Flickinger, who recently moved into a nursing home, and his daughter. She was taken to the hospital for treatment following the fire.

The news caught the attention of many in the community who know the vet and former teacher.

"I had Mr. Flickinger in eighth grade," Naftzinger said. "Most everybody, if they went to Hamburg, had Mr. Flickinger. He probably did at least 40 years as a high school teacher."

Members of the VFW and volunteers came to Flickinger and his daughter's aid a little more than a year ago after flood waters damaged their basement.

"It felt really good to do that," Kepner said. "Any time anyone in town needs, especially a veteran that's very close to my heart, my family that were overseas, and very special friends and family that are here."

Flickinger was last in Hamburg for the borough's Memorial Day celebration, when the mayor's wife picked him up from the nursing home and made sure he was with the community that he means so much to.

"It means a lot," veteran Bradley Clay said. "I met him for the first time during the Memorial Day celebration we had here. There's not too many guys like him left around here."

It's a solemn reminder of the important people who are still here and a community that is still there for them.

"If they need our help, all they have to do is reach out to us," Naftzinger said. "We will do anything we can."

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

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