ABC13 viewers show Texas-sized generosity after vandals target disabled veteran's car

Vet with vandalized car gets Texas-sized support
September 24, 2013 3:23:50 PM PDT
There's been an outpouring of support for a Katy veteran whose vehicle targeted by vandals. And after our story aired on Eyewitness News at 10 Monday, his phone has been ringing off the hook with offers from total strangers who want to lend a hand.

The veteran says he was up until 3am returning texts, emails and phone calls from people who offered to help. And thanks to the Mason Road Collision Center, he's getting the repairs he needs for free.

For a man who's accustomed to serving others, Hector Cortez can't believe how many rushed to help him.

"For me, this is more than the world," he said. "Ever since last night, I've been constantly receiving phone calls, emails, texts."

We met the former Marine on Monday after his 1996 red Ford Escort was spray painted with nasty curse words and racial slurs.

"Fought for us and just look at what happened to him, just ridiculous," neighbor Colton St. Clair said.

"I saw it on the news last night, and I was appalled," concerned resident Susan Ruatto said.

His story touched hundreds of viewers, who wrote us on Facebook asking how they could help.

Fred Amjadi wrote, "I have an auto repair and collision facility. I would be willing to help Mr. Cortez repair his vehicle."

Kenneth Rogers wrote, "I will fix his car free of charge. I have done paint and body work for over 10 years."

And Dodi McVey Swayze wrote, "Would love to set up a fund for him and have people contribute... Together, we can all do something."

Auto shop owner Nick Tajian stepped up, offering to fix Cortez's car free of charge. That means fresh paint, new stripes and a solid bumper.

"That's the least I can do for him," Tajian said.

The gesture left Cortez emotional.

"I have no idea how I'm going to repay you or how I can thank you more, but thank you," Cortez told Tajian.

With his service dog Rusty riding shotgun, Cortez says his faith in humanity, is restored. He feels closer to the people whose freedom he's proudly fought for.

"I'm just grateful. I am," Cortez said.

The car will be finished in about 10 days, and the owners will give him a loaner car in the meantime.

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