WALL TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – The love for a World War II veteran who recently passed away is now helping to build a home for a local hero in New Jersey.
General Harry Rockefeller – not from the well-known family in New York – fought at the Battle of the Bulge, liberated a Nazi concentration camp, and earned every military honor from the Purple Heart to three Silver Stars.
When he was 95-years-old, he had a chance meeting with Wall Township Police patrolman Mike Malone. They became best friends and on Rockefeller’s death bed Malone made a promise.
“I held his hand and I made him a promise that I was not going to allow him to be forgotten,” Malone told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.
Malone and the Police Benevolent Association raised nearly $200,000 to create a bronze statue of Rockefeller in front of the police department.
Donations came from all over the world and exceeded the cost of the memorial. It left about $50,000 of leftover money.
That extra money is now being donated to five veterans’ charities, each getting $10,000.
One of those checks was just given to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation to help build a smart home for Marine Scott Nokes. The 27-year-old dreamed of joining the Marines since he was five years-old, but lost both legs and his eyesight after contracting an infection in Afghanistan.
“It’s happened. There’s nothing I could do about it now so why just sit back and be upset,” Nokes said.
Nokes is focusing on the future and showed CBS2 a 3D model of the smart home that will start being built in a few weeks.
Everything will be run off an iPad, giving Nokes control over whether he’s using his wheelchair or prosthetics.
“The stove will be able to lower and raise while you’re in the chair. It’s all on an elevator,” the Marine explained.
Nokes has learned all about General Rockefeller and is honored they’re now connected.
“Such an incredible military record and his leadership… always looking for veterans organizations and helping out vets when he came home,” Nokes added.
Those who knew the U.S. Army hero says he’d be happy that his legacy of service continues to help veterans today.
The smart home for Scott Nokes is scheduled to be finished sometime this summer.