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Let the light shine

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | December 10, 2020 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Ron Isaac wanted to get on a ladder this year, as usual, and put up Christmas lights on his Harbor View Drive home.

Wife Judi thought otherwise.

“I won’t let him because he’s fallen a few times,” she said.

But the Isaacs will still have a decorated house for the holidays.

Christmas Decor donated its services to Ron Isaac, a Navy veteran and Purple Heart recipient, as part of its "Decorated Family" program. 

Andy Spears, Senske Services branch manager, Coeur d’Alene Division, and his Christmas Decor team spent the morning and early afternoon stringing lights along the railings and around the home, and placing other decorations, including twinkle lights, on the property.

“It’s a big deal for us every year to be able to come out, decorate a house and give back,” he said.

“With more than 300,000 American soldiers deployed overseas this holiday season, families across the nation are facing the challenge of preparing for the holidays without their loved ones,” said a press release. “Christmas Decor has stepped in to light up the homes of the families of these brave men and women.”

Judi Isaac was touched by their actions.

“I’m just overwhelmed they would come out and do this,” she said, “to think they would be so kind to us.”

Ron Isaac said when Spears called to tell him he had been selected for the honor, he “couldn’t believe it.”

“There are so many veterans that deserve this,” he said. “Why I had the good luck of being selected, I don’t know. There’s so many vets that really deserve this accolade.”

Spears said they were pleased to do it.

“Mr. Isaac has done a lot for our company. He comes down, talks with us, jokes with us, makes it a fun time. He’s a great customer of ours,” he said.

Spears, who served six years with the Army National Guard out of Hermiston, Ore., was also moved knowing that Isaac survived a helicopter crash during the Vietnam War.

“That mere fact of being through a helicopter crash, being able to tell the story, was huge for me,” Spears said. “Knowing he went through that for me was a chance to give back to him. I appreciate him for what he did and what he sacrificed.”

Isaac said he didn’t look at it as a sacrifice.

“I look at it as doing the job that I was trained to do,” he said. “If I had it to do all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing, except perhaps move a little faster and not get wounded so many times," he added, laughing.

Isaac went into the military in September 1964. In August of 1965, he volunteered to go to Vietnam, having completed hospital corpsman school.

“I was a Navy corpsman,” he said. “I thought, what better place to do my training than with the Marines.”

He arrived in South Vietnam in September 1965 and was there until November 1966. He received three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action.

When his helicopter was shot down in 1966, two were killed and several were injured. Isaac suffered 21 broken vertebrae.

“That’s why I don’t walk as good as I used to 50 years ago,” he said.

After returning home from Vietnam, Isaac enrolled in college to study nursing and spent nearly 40 years working around the nation in jails and prisons for contract health care companies. He retired in 2012 from the Bonner County Sheriff's Office, where he was the health services administrator.

He and Judi, also a retired nurse, have been married 38 years.

Due to his war injuries, Ron Isaac has undergone six spinal surgeries and one neck surgery.

He jokes about screws, glue and tape holding him together, but said his wife is really why he has held up, why he is walking, talking and enjoying the Christmas lights at their home.

“Judi feeds me well,” he said, smiling. “She’s been the best thing that has ever come into my life. I definitely married up.”

Wednesday night, contacted at his home, Ron Isaac was delighted. He said the decorations were “absolutely incredible.”

“Oh my gosh, does it look beautiful,” he said. “They have really raised the bar. There’s no way I would be able to do this. It’s just remarkable.”

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BILL BULEY/Press

Bailey Reichenberg attaches Christmas lights to the railing outside the home of Ron and Judi Isaac on Wednesday.

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BILL BULEY/Press

Marshall Watts places Christmas lights on the home of Ron and Judi Isaac on Wednesday.

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BILL BULEY/Press

Ron and Judi Isaac are joined by Andy Spears as they check out the Christmas lights being placed on the Isaacs' Harbor View Drive home on Wednesday.