When thieves broke into Bennie Welch’s home in Telico on Dec. 29, they robbed him not only of his possessions, but they stole his sense of security. Welch, who is a World War II veteran, has faced fear on the battlefield, but he didn’t expect it at home.
“Ever since this thing had happened I had slept with a shotgun laying right 'side my bed. I don’t know why but I felt like I had to sleep with that gun,” Welch said. “I go to a psychiatrist and I am not ashamed of it. I have nightmares. They are not as bad as they used to be. For years I have had nightmares. Since this has come up they have started back up again.”
The Ellis County Sheriff's Office is investigating the burglary and has released any information on possible suspects at this time.
“I had to be at the VA (hospital) at 8 a.m. last Monday morning. I got up and left here at 6:30 a.m. went to the VA and got back at 4 p.m. When we walked in the door, my daughter who lives with me said, 'Daddy somebody has unhooked the television,’” Welch said. “She was looking down at the wires that were on the floor. Then she looked up and said ‘Oh my God the television is gone.’ So the first thing that she did is to go on in and call the sheriff’s department. The guy told us not to touch nothing or move nothing.”
According to a release from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office a deputy was dispatched to the scene at 4:30 p.m. to a residence in the 7900 block of Farm-to-Market 1181 to investigate the burglary.
Deputies went through the house with Welch to make a list of items that had been taken. Along with taking an inventory, deputies dusted for prints.
“The window (back window) right up there was broke. This door was not locked and this hat rack was lying over here on the table. I heard a detective and a sergeant talking and said it looked like they broke the window right up there at the top,” Welch said. “They reached in and opened the door. When they did that, they knocked the rack over. They pretty much ransacked the house. The police said they figured they were here about 45 minutes.”
At the time of the burglary, the thieves parked their vehicle at the back of his house to obscure it being seen by motorists or other residents, Welch said the Sheriff's Office told him. None of his neighbors were at home, or they were too far away to see anything, Welch said.
After deputies conducted a search of the house, it was concluded that a large number of items had been stolen including rifles, a pistol, two flat screen televisions, a laptop computer, jewelry, tape recorder, a reading machine, three Purple Heart medals, three Good Conduct medals, and six military service ribbons from Africa, Japan and Italy.
Welch served in the Army for six and half years as a member of the Army’s First Calvary Division that was attached to the 10th Reconnaissance, he said.
“I spent some time in Africa. I spent a whole lot of time in Italy. I was there when Patton made the push. It was suppose to take six week but it took nine months,” Welch said. “I got some purple hearts. Some guy shot me off of a building and I got up. The bullet when it and broke my metal helmet, my plastic helmet and stuck in my head. They carried back but there was nothing they could do about it. They didn’t have surgeons like they got now.”
Welch said he did contact the VA to see if he could get another set of medals but was told they were unable to provide him any because they were cast so long ago. He was told that the process used today is to stamp out medals and the new ones would not look like those he had.
Dealing with the burglary has been a difficult process for him Welch said, adding that he does not wish to harm those who wronged him, because he experienced enough violence during WWII.
“I don’t want to do any more of it,” Welch said.
Since the burglary, Welch has received phone calls from people wanting to help him.
“When you are 90 years old and you have got to tell somebody you're broke, that is an embarrassing situation to be in for me. I have always been a doer, a giver. This being a taker don’t really go down good.”
People who are looking to help Welch can contact Tracy Smith, who is Welch’s granddaughter-in-law, at 972-689-9272. Also a GoFundMe account has been set up at www.gofundme.com/benniewelch.
“This thing had hit me in the lower part of my gut,”Welch said. “It ain’t going down too good. To me it is a nightmare.”