Family home of Wis. soldier burns down shortly after his homecoming

CREATED Dec. 26, 2013

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Don Hannemann couldn't have been more excited; his son was coming home just in time for Christmas after serving 7 months in Afghanistan.

On his way to pick up his son, he got a call saying his house was on fire.  Hanneman was running late for his son's welcome home ceremony because his truck broke down. 

That's when he got the call.

"I was at the repair shop in Slinger and the police called, saying the house was on fire, you need to come here," Hannemann explained.

Hannemann says he wasn't going to miss his son's welcome home celebration.

"I've been deployed too, and it was something he could relate to, and it was our time," Hannemann said.

It's not the homecoming soldier Derek Wensel had in mind.

"We go through the whole welcome home ceremony and all of a sudden, we had to go because our house burned down.  Kind of a 180," Wensel said.

Wensel admits this is worse than anything he saw in Afghanistan.

"I was speechless.  I didn't realize what actually happened.  It finally hit me last night that it burned down," Wensel said.

"The people at the repair shop couldn't believe it, and your truck broke down.  There's not much you can do but get through it now," Hannemann said.

Hannemann broke down in tears talking about the generosity of his neighbors.

"A neighbor that I've never met brought money by yesterday.  it's tough, that part.  I'm not much for taking hand-outs.  I've never had to," Hannemann said.

"I would just like to thank everybody for supporting us," Wensel said.