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Staff writer

A veteran and historian is seeking help after a house fire.

In early May, Brent Tobin received news no would love to hear when he found out that his home on Grinstead Street was on fire. Tobin, a Vietnam veteran and retired member of the navy, returned to find fireman and policeman courageously fighting a fire looking to be located near the front of his house. The cause was never completely determined, but Tobin said an electrical wire looks to be the culprit.

“The hot wire was so hot that it burned the sidewalk when it broke,” Tobin said. “That’s the only thing they could think of that caused the fire. I have a friend that told me that they had seen that wire spark before.”

Tobin’s doesn’t believe his home is able to be salvaged. In fact, when asked whats next he said, “I’m going to keep doing a little bit on it at a time.”

“Right now the city isn’t bugging me,” Tobin stated. “Long as I can keep working on it and keep it looking nice, the neighbors aren’t giving me a hard time about it. I’m getting lumber and taking time to work on it.”

Tobin said that he didn’t have insurance for the home because he was in the process of adding storage rooms to it. While he admits that the fire dampened his spirit, he also sees it as an opportunity to “watch God work.”

Tobin compares the house fire to his time in the navy. He was the only black non-commission officer aboard the USS LaSalle. After encountering a couple of people with a vendetta against him, he was ordered to go “dead in country” - meaning he was set to go directly to where the heavy action was taking place in Vietnam.

“The life span at the particular spot in Vietnam was only an hour,” Tobin stated. “But there was someone looking our for me.”

Tobin shared that he was named the Admirable Captain’s Personal Coreman by a physician. He said this was made possibly because of he had the highest medical training scores out of all of the fellow Navy members in Arkansas. His scores were high enough to attend any “A” school at the time.

“That admirable doctor personally assigned me to him and told me to take care of him,” Tobin explained. “That’s what kept me from going dead in country. The admirable told me, ‘Wherever my feet go, your feet will go.’ There were things working against me, but God made a way.”

Tobin said that he has already been on the receiving end of great acts of kindness since the fire. In June, Shiloh Baptist Church paid for his living arrangements and in July St. James Baptist Church did the same. Jerry Fletcher of Fletcher and Son Auto Painting has a business located near Tobin’s home and took it upon himself to mow Tobin’s lot.

“I didn’t ask him to, but he knows me and knows I don’t do snakes,” Tobin shared. “He just did it out of the kindness of his heart. That means so much to me and I’m thankful.… Lord knows I’m a good hand at trying to help people, but I am a poor hand when it comes to saying I need help,” Tobin said emotionally. “I’m just thankful for everyone that has helped me so far.”

Tobin said that he can be reached at 675-8580 and that his P.O. Box is 1152, Camden, Ar, 71711.

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