SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Friends and family of a Sioux Falls veteran honored him with a “Veteran’s Last Patrol” ceremony Tuesday. It’s a way to let veterans know they are appreciated and not alone. Gene Tooly and his family invited us to this special event.

“This was fantastic, fantastic, the surprise of my life,” said Gene.

Gene, who is 83 served in the Army and has lived in Sioux Falls for most of his life. With stage 4 cancer and now in hospice care, Gene will spend his last days in the house that he and his wife bought in 1963. Instead of waiting for a funeral his youngest brother Vincent reached out to an organization called Veterans Last Patrol. They sent a quilt, letters of appreciation from other veterans and a certificate which Vincent read to the people attending the event.

“Eugene J Tooly, please always be reminded of the country’s everlasting gratitude for your patriotism and service.”

Vincent says Gene was part of the original airborne units to use helicopters in Vietnam. Gene is a retired trucker, a long-time Boy Scout leader, and a teamster.

The American Legion presented him with a flag.

“Please accept this flag from the American Legion as a symbol of our appreciation”

And the teamsters honored him as well

“This is from all the teamsters, appreciate all your years of service and everything you did for the truck rodeo. Thank you for your service brother.”

“I’ve tried my best to hold it together,” said Vicent. “Gene is an amazing man, he served his country he dedicated his life to teaching the youth to be good and moral.”

Gene says catching up with old friends and seeing some of the young men he mentored through the Boy Scouts has been an amazing experience.

“I want to thank every one of you for sharing part of your life with me. Letting me be your friend, God bless every one of you, thank you,” said Gene.

Here is a link to Veteran’s Last Patrol. You can also connect via their Facebook page.