Senior living faciltiy for veterans caught in middle of Nuns and Atlas Fires

75-year-old David Worden, a Vietnam War veteran, is one of the ones still staying behind. He helps in the dining hall, greeting people and collecting payment for guests' meals. (Oct. 13, 2017)

In Yountville, California, less than 10 miles from Napa, you'll find over 850 veterans living at the Veterans Home of California living facility.

In the midst of the deadliest group of wildfires in recorded state history, these veterans found themselves in the middle of two of the largest: the Nuns Fire on the West and the Atlas Fire on the East.

That's why many with more serious medical conditions were already evacuated and placed in other living facilities. Everyone still there is sheltering in place, with limited outdoor activity because of the poor air quality. Cal Fire crews and buses are all nearby, in case the fire moves too close. 

75-year-old David Worden, a Vietnam War veteran, is one of the ones still staying behind. He helps in the dining hall, greeting people and collecting payment for guests' meals.

Worden said the pharmacist calls him 'Trouble' when he arrives and that he likes to make people happy.

"The first night we had evacuation, I made a bet with some of the ladies," he said.

Worden, trying to keep the others calm, joked that the buses would be loaded only to turn around and come back.

"Five minutes after I got on my bus, I come off," said Worden. "Didn't even leave the grounds."

Even though Worden loves to find light in joking, he has been through some dark times.

"I came back from Vietnam," said Worden. "My two friends [from high school] didn't come back. I saw them die. And that's why I came home early. I couldn't take it. I tried to forget about it as much as I could."

Worden was born partially deaf and said he always struggled in school because of it. At one point in his life, he was even homeless. And Worden is no stranger to wildfire. He lost his home three times.

"Three different times, three different places," said Worden. "Everything I had I lost. I had to start from scratch."

Worden said he also doesn't have a lot of family around but he has some people who 'adopted' him as one of their own.

"They're worried about me. I came home to get 8-10 messages asking 'David you alright? Watcha doing?'" said Worden, eyes watering, "I'm glad. I didn't know so many people loved me. I was crying. I'm almost ready to cry now. I cry very easily."

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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