Veteran who serves others in need gets gift of a car

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DENVER -- Daryl Vande Hoef served his country in the U.S. Navy. He did three tours of duty on the USS Enterprise during Vietnam.

“I was in interior communications. We worked on any communications in the ship,” he said.

Fifty years later, Vande Hoef continues to serve his country as a shuttle driver for other veterans in need.

“I just figured it would be a good way to help people," he said.

That tour of duty came to a sudden end when his car was totaled in a crash. No one was hurt. In fact, Vande Hoef kept right on serving shortly after.

“After my car wreck, I started emptying garbage at the (VA) helping veterans. I was there every day," he said.

He still needed a new car but could not afford one. Who would have thought that help would come in the form of a little green gecko?

Actually, it’s the Geico gecko and Caliber Collision body shop in Boulder. It’s all part of the National Auto Body Council’s Recycled Rides Program.

“We take a car, we refurbish it. Get it back up to running condition and we’ll go out and vet a veteran or somebody in need and donate the vehicle to them,” said Tim Bator, regional manager for Caliber Collision.

After a little pomp and circumstance at the Caliber Collision shop, Vande Hoef received his new ride.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful car," he said humbly with a smile.

From here on out, he said, it’s full steam ahead.

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