Roofing Hero: David Gray’s Acts of Generosity Keep a Vietnam Veteran Safe and Dry

Roof repair
Roof repari Photo courtesy David Gray

We all have a talent given to us. As Curly (Jack Palance) told Mitch (Billy Crystal) in the movie “City Slickers,” it’s up to us to make the most out of “the one thing.”

That includes helping others. There’s even something in the Bible about that.

David Gray’s talent is repairing and installing roofs as the owner of Trini-D Construction in Midlothian. “As the son of a roofer, I understand fully the challenge this job presents and the fact that there is absolutely no margin for error.

A bad roof in need of repair can be a nightmare. Fortunately for Richard Witmer, Gray is good at his craft, and because of this, he is sitting in his home safe and dry today.”

A home with a brand new roof that did not cost him a nickel, thanks to Gray’s generosity and willingness to do some good with his talent. What’s more, Gray had never met Witmer before performing his gracious act.

Last year, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office received a call to go to Witmer’s home. They found him lying on the floor, wet and cold from the water leaking through the roof.

The deputy who helped Witmer to his feet then placed a call to Gray, who came and patched the roof for free – his first generous act.

“I fell off my bed and got trapped with my leg under me with no room to move, and nobody was around, and it was raining,” Witmer recalled. “I am so thankful for what he (Gray) did.”

But Gray wasn’t finished. After all, the roof was at least 15 years old, and there were bound to be more leaks.

There were.

Recently, Gray got a call from Witmer asking for help again because water was coming in from a different area. While some might have felt justified to charge for more help, Gray took his help to an even higher level.

He put on an entirely new roof for Witmer.

“I decided I would take the proper measures to ensure he received a roof. I reached out to other partnerships I work hand-in-hand with, and everyone was more than willing to help,” said Gray, who is no stranger to helping others, having also helped build a house with Habitat for Humanity.

It’s funny how generosity can be contagious that way. One person doing the right thing often leads to others joining in.

“I want to send a shout-out to the sheriff’s department for having professional individuals who went over and beyond on that day. Shout out to McCoy’s Midlothian, Beacon building products, King’s Roll-Off Dumpsters and JW gutters for helping Trini-D Construction step up and help a veteran in need,” Gray said.

Witmer, who lives southeast of Waxahachie, is 74, a widow thanks to COVID-19, is disabled and lives on Social Security and disabled. Like many his age, life has, to say the least, been a challenge.

He is also a U.S. Army veteran, SP5 rank, who served as an aerial camera repairman with the 131st Aviation Company in Phu Bai, South Vietnam, from October 1968 to October 1969.

In other words, if anyone deserves help, it’s him, a man who put his life on the line. Moreover, he did so in one of the most unpopular military conflicts ever. He still remembers the pain he felt when, instead of coming home to a hero’s welcome, it was the exact opposite.

“I served my country with honor but was totally disgraced and degraded when I came home with my uniform on. I was called all sorts of names,” he said. “I never felt so betrayed.

“I was very pleased with the reception the Gulf War vets received.”

Thankfully, more folks today have come to the understanding that soldiers are simply doing their job and should not be blamed for leaders sending them into battle. However, as Witmer and others like him have discovered, we could use a lot more folks like Gray and his friends to show our appreciation with more than just words.

Though not a veteran, Gray has veterans in his family and greatly appreciates folks like Witmer, who have defended freedom. This recent incident inspired him to do even more going forward.

“This is my first one to donate, and after doing so, it will be my priority to do this yearly for a veteran,” Gray said.

Gray began installing the roof on Veterans Day, saying it simply felt right.

“As a community, we can all make a difference.”

Witmer said Gray’s gesture of kindness has inspired him. He will have to overcome another challenge, but he plans to do some paying forward.

“Three years ago, I was in a wreck, and my car was totaled,” he said. “When I get another car, I will dedicate myself to helping others less fortunate than I because of the compassion David has shown me.

“I still can’t believe what he did for me. I feel I owe him everything.”


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Rick Mauch
Rick Mauch is a veteran of more than four decades in the media. He began writing in high school and immediately went into broadcasting for almost a decade after graduating, working his way to morning drive in Birmingham, Alabama. However, realizing how much he missed writing (though he did continue to do some during his time in top-40 radio), Rick returned to what he loved and has been doing it ever since. Rick's career has spanned a plethora of media outlets, including community journalism, sports, entertainment, politics and more. He's worked in print, broadcast and online media. He also spent several years doing public relations for a children's home in East Texas - still writing on the side, of course. When he's not writing, Rick loves to play golf and do Bigfoot research. He's an avid believer. He also made his first hole-in-one in June of 2020. Rick is married to Junell Mauch. They have five children and three granddaughters