WWII vet starting over at 96 after fire destroys home - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

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WWII vet starting over at 96 after fire destroys home

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It takes a lot to slow down World War II vet, Fred Czupkiewicz.

"I'm always on the go though, see, I don't like to sit around."

In his 96 years, he's seen challenges, including battling Tuberculosis as a kid.

"They told my father, he's not going to live to 18 I doubt very much. He'll die by that time," Czupkiewicz said.

His doctor couldn't have been more wrong.

When he was 18 he joined the reserves, then got called into active duty fighting in Germany during World War II.

"I was captured Christmas Day, 1944, that was a long time ago," he said.

Czupkiewicz would spend six months in a German prison camp after he was captured in the Battle of the Bulge.

After all of his trials, chatting with him for just a few minutes, it's clear his sense of humor gets him through it all.

"I got captured, I was trying to take it too much, they got me," he said, laughing, talking about fighting the day he was captured.

But this past March, he would face one of his toughest trials yet.

His South Hadley home of nearly 50 years was destroyed by fire; the home he and his wife Margaret had raised four daughters in, the home he had fixed with his own two hands.

"It's kind of rough seeing your own home burning down," he said.

What followed were challenging months. He's been living in a trailer in his yard ever since the fire, many of his lifelong possessions gone.

"After two days I was sick and tired of it," he said.

And it seemed problems just kept getting in the way. First asbestos, then a cracked foundation.

But finally, there was light at the end of the tunnel.

"Since the rebuilding we've seen you getting excited about this, and we're getting excited for you," said his grandson Mike Boyington.

Boyington has been there every step of the way.

"They all help me, all of my kids help me, in fact I had too many people here to help, they're all in each other's way," Czupkiewicz said.

Now his home is only around a month and a half from completion. And he and his cat Thumbs are counting down the days until they can move in and throw one of his legendary family parties for the five generations that follow him.

"I got a few grandchildren running around, I got one favorite one right here," he said, gesturing to Boyington.

"He's an amazing individual, he's taken care of his family, he's provided great for his family as well as his country... words can't describe what he's done for all of us," Boyington said.

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