What happens when you put 20 or so veterans, Coast Guard personnel and a local motorcycle group together with power tools and a shiny blue tractor, and ask them to tear down a building?

Lloyd Stover Jr., president of Maine Chapter 5 of the Patriot Riders of America, summed it up: “This is fun and it helps a veteran that really needs it.”

George Norton, a retired disabled veteran on a fixed income, who was stationed in Germany with the Army from 1965 to 1967, said Sept. 18 that his garage would not have made it through the winter.

From the outside, the 70-year-old structure seemed rugged, though in need of some TLC. He received a quote of $16,000 to $18,000 to demolish the building and haul the materials away.

Operations Manager Jim Roberts of Randall Collins VFW Post 3108 in Belfast said, “It wasn’t cost-effective, so we just did it ourselves.”

Roberts contacted members of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment's Belfast office and the Patriot Riders and a plan was hatched, along with the donated services of Pinkerton & Sons Disposal.

Norton’s neighbor, Mayor Eric Sanders, said, “It’s amazing watching these guys do this for a neighbor.”

Sanders said his father was a veteran and that the outpouring meant a lot to him. “I call this old school,” he said. “It’s another example of the kind of community we live in.”

Karl Haslauer, a Coast Guard marine safety technician who said he typically inspects vessels, was busy along with five other officers, hauling remnants of the garage to the disposal truck.

Roberts, he said, contacted his office and asked for some help. “If we have the people, we will help,” he said, and added, “It gets us out of the office.”

Sanders said he was not sure what the procedure is, but he would ask City Council to  help with the $720 tipping fee for the 8,460 pounds of material loaded in the truck.

The structure was demolished down to the floorboards in 90 minutes. When the tractor finally picked up the last of the old floor beams, a friendly skunk made an appearance from beneath and sprayed VFW member Eddie Carrera, then scampered off.