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Tuesday, 18 August 2020 23:10

Auto Body Shop Repairs Car at No Cost to Returning Veteran

Written by Chas Reilly, NWI Times Correspondent
From left, Marc Staples, Vance Walczak, Carole Walczak and John Melendex share a laugh near Vance Walczak's Chevrolet Malibu. From left, Marc Staples, Vance Walczak, Carole Walczak and John Melendex share a laugh near Vance Walczak's Chevrolet Malibu. Chas Reilly, NWI Times

Index

U.S. Army veteran Vance Walczak took a walk with family after he returned home from a yearlong tour of duty in Kuwait, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

He was happy to be with loved ones that day at the end of July, and he was about to get happier during the stroll.

 

The Whiting, IN, man noticed his Chevrolet Malibu sitting in the street, but it was much different than how he left it.

 

That's because John Melendez, owner of JDM Collision in Thornton, IL, had completed substantial repairs to the vehicle at no charge to Walczak while he was away.

 

“I had no idea, they surprised me,” he said. “I was really surprised the first day I got back.”

 

Although Walczak received his car a couple of weeks ago, he hadn't met Melendez until Aug. 13.

 

The two quickly became friends as they talked inside JDM Collision.

 

“Thank you for everything, honestly, with the car,” Walczak said.

 

Melendez replied, “It was the least we could do.”

 

Before returning home, Walczak was unsure when he could have the vehicle repaired, he said.

 

Melendez said he understands service members face many challenges returning home after deployment, and he wanted to assist in any way he could.

 

Melendez said the car needed a lot of work, but he didn't mind doing it.

 

“The front end was wrecked and needed a new fender, needed a new bumper, so we went ahead and took care of that,” Melendez said.


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