Soldier Who Saluted Funeral Procession in Pouring Rain Loses Home to Fire

Specialist Kenneth Varnes, a Fort Hood soldier who touched millions in March after he stepped out of his vehicle in the pouring rain to salute a fallen veteran, lost his home Saturday to a fire and a GoFundMe site has been set up.

Weather.com News reports:

According to KCEN, the fire broke out at Specialist Kenneth Varnes’ home in Killeen, Texas, just after 5 p.m. Saturday and quickly engulfed the home, destroying it. Varnes, his wife and their 9-month-old daughter escaped the burning home unscathed. Faulty wiring is believed to be the cause of the fire.

In March, Zachary Rummings, also of Killeen, snapped a photo of Varnes and posted it to social media, not knowing the identity of the young soldier. He told KWTX he was touched when he saw Varnes stop his vehicle, come to attention and salute the fallen, retired soldier during a funeral procession.

Varnes was recognized from the post and later told KWTX he felt compelled to stop his truck when he saw the American flags hanging from the windows of the funeral procession, indicating to him that it was a military funeral.

“This is probably going to make someone’s day, seeing me stand here, and I know how it is to go through a tough time like that, and I really just did it just to make someone’s day, that was it,” Varnes told the station.

Varnes later said he joined the military because of the selfless gestures of so many soldiers before him, including his grandfather who served in Vietnam. His last conversation with his grandfather before he passed away was about his time serving in the war, a conversation that stuck with Varnes and inspired him to devote his own life to the service of his country.

“I love this country and will do anything to protect it,” Varnes said.

As the photo went viral and his story made headlines around the world, Varnes remained humble. He said he never gave it a thought before getting out of his vehicle in the rain to salute the fallen veteran.

“I don’t care if they were 80 years old, they were in World War II, they were in Vietnam, they were in Iraq, I don’t care if they were 20,” Varnes told KWTX. “It’s a brotherhood.”

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GoFundMe site was created by Varnes’ mother-in-law Sunday to help Varnes and his family in the wake of the fire.

The family also stated that it “has received an abundance of clothes donations and are so thankful for the outpouring of generosity!” They are asking that future donations be in the form of gift cards. They can be sent to the address below:

Goode Towing, C/O Varnes Family, 5209 S Fort Hood St., Killeen, TX 76542

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