Bradenton Vietnam veteran gets break after criminals left him homeless

MANATEE -- A stolen Cadillac Escalade crashed into Dennis Moylan's trailer the day after Christmas and left him homeless.

Moylan, a 63-year-old Marine Corps veteran of fighting around Phu Bai and Quang Tri, Vietnam, had lived in the trailer for 14 years, making just enough as a groundskeeper at New College of Florida to pay his bills.

Somehow, even though his home was destroyed, Moylan wasn't injured.

"I think St. Joseph was in the back bedroom," he said.

Moylan didn't have any savings and didn't know what he would do. "I couldn't fathom something like this happening," he said.

On Thursday, Moylan choked up, overcome by emotion when he received a $3,000 donation from Bingoland through the nonprofit Turning Points. That money allowed him to become a homeowner again just a few doors down from his original home.

"My eyes are going to cry," Moylan said as he accepted congratulations from Dennis Turner, program director for Turning Points. "You are my brother."

Moylan's old trailer in Pioneer Park, 1615 block 51st Ave. E., bears the scars of the violent encounter with the Escalade.

It was knocked off its foundation, and the front door sits about 4 feet from the stairs. One corner of the trailer was crushed in the collision. The crash was so violent the trailer nearly hit the one next door.

"It was 1:20 a.m. and I was in my back room. I always hear sirens at night, and I heard several sirens and they kept getting louder. Then I heard squealing tires, and the whole place shook. It moved everything a couple of feet," he said.

"By the time I got to my front door, I heard the deputies yelling at the suspects to get on the ground. All my dishes were knocked out of the cabinet and I cut my feet on the glass. The deputy asked if I was OK," he recalled.

Two suspects in the Escalade were quickly arrested.

Fortunately, the mobile home park manager was able to move Moylan into a nearby trailer, and put him in touch with Turning Points, which works with veterans and other homeless people.

"I called Dennis in and, after talking to the landlord, we were able to make this happen," Turner said.

Moylan said he is overwhelmed by how supportive New College has been, as well as the assistance of Turning Points, and the gift from Bingoland.

"I didn't realize there are so many good people out there," Moylan said.

Even though his old home might someday be repaired, he has no desire to return to it.

"I don't want to move back in. To me, it's haunted. I still have problems sleeping at night if I hear a siren or a car drive by," he said.

Pete and Patty Killingsworth, owners of Bingoland, are known throughout the Manatee veterans community for their generosity. They donated an estimated $900,000 to local veterans causes and posts in 2014 alone.

"This almost feels like it's not enough help, with him being a veteran of Vietnam," Pete Killingsworth said. "We are going to come back later with a television to replace the one damaged in the crash."

James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.

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