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Helping out a buddy

By Staff | Jul 5, 2020

A group of guys from the Southern Minnesota area got together in Blue Earth to shingle a buddy’s house, Sgt. Austin Decker, who is deployed to Africa. The group takes a brief break to pose for a photo, above.

They say they were just helping out a buddy and a fellow soldier.

Last Saturday, June 27, a group of guys from Southern Minnesota, their wives and young kids, showed up in Blue Earth to shingle the home of Austin and Raelynn Decker on West 10th Street.

“We wanted to help them out,” says Justin Hutchinson, of Austin. “We wanted to show our support for a fellow soldier.”

Austin Decker is Sgt. Decker of the 492nd Army Reserve Engineer Company out of Mankato. And since last August of 2019, he has been deployed to Africa.

Three of the guys doing the shingling last Saturday are from Austin’s unit, including Sgt. Justin Hutchinson, Specialist Matthew Buntje of Mankato and Chief Warrant Officer 1 Thomas Gambrel of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Sgt. Decker’s family, wife Raelynn with kids Aiden, 6, Mikaelynn, 4, and Greyson, 2, stand in the yard of their Blue Earth home with the finished shingling job visible in the background.

The others on the work crew were Michael and Steve Hutchinson of Austin, Cody Meyer of Austin and Bryce Orth of Lyle.

“We have a company called Hutch and Sons Builders in Austin,” Hutchinson says. “We build homes and do remodeling and we also do shingling and roofing.”

Raelynn Decker says her husband Austin started shingling the garage at their home last summer, but then got deployed. So, the Deckers contacted Justin to finish the job.

“Hutch (Justin) had already finished a bedroom in the house for us,” Raelynn says. “So we were going to pay him to shingle now, too.”

But instead, Hutchinson got some guys together and all are volunteering their time.

“Austin and Raelynn already had some of the supplies purchased,” Hutchinson says. “But we bought the rest with a $1,200 donation from the VFW Post 1216 in Austin, plus we threw in some materials, too. And Hometown Sanitation discounted the dumpster.”

The crew started at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and finished up at 6:30 p.m. They stayed at the campground in Blue Earth Friday and Saturday nights, and on Sunday, before they left, they were able to get a lot of the trash and garbage cleaned up and in the dumpster before it rained.

The workers also had help from some ladies who also provided and helped with meals for the large crew. Those were Rhoda Hutchinson, Schylar Hutchinson, Mckinze Hutchinson and Sophia Morse, all of Austin.

Justin Hutchinson says Austin Decker did not know this was all going to be completed at his house until after the crew was all finished.

They video chatted with him in Africa after they were all done. He was amazed and appreciative.

So was Raelynn Decker.

The couple have three children; Aiden, six, Mikaelynn, four, and Greyson, two.

Raelynn is a Blue Earth native and a graduate of Blue Earth Area High School. Her husband, Austin, grew up in the Fairmont, Truman, Mapleton area. He is employed at the Valero Ethanol Plant in Lakota, Iowa.

They have lived in their now newly-shingled house for three years.

“This is just amazing,” Raelynn Decker says. “I can’t believe they all did this for us.”

Justin Hutchinson says he talked to the guys and they all agreed to do it as a gift, free of cost.

“It is just something we felt we should do because of Austin’s service, and being deployed at this time,” Hutchinson says. “He has done a lot for us, too. It is just the right thing to do. We help each other out.”