Veteran without air conditioning or heating for 10 years receiving free heating and cooling system

Published 12:20 am Tuesday, December 5, 2023

DeVaine Barnhill has not enjoyed the comforts of heating or air conditioning at his home in 10 years.

This doesn’t stop the 91-year-old Nederland resident from displaying a great attitude and kind heart, according to neighbor Chris Herrmann.

“He is always asking, ‘What do you need?’ and stuff like that,” Herrmann said. “He is always bringing things to my kids. I wouldn’t trade (him as a neighbor) for anything.”

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Knowing Barnhill’s situation at home, Herrmann nominated the U.S. Army and Navy Veteran for this year’s annual AmerAirCares giveaway led by American Air Systems.

The 2023 event includes the installation of a $12,000 indoor and outdoor heating and cooling system.

Once Barnhill was selected for the award by a nomination and review committee, American Air Systems installation manager Tommy Stanford got some help from Herrmann to talk to Barnhill and learn about his needs without giving away the surprise.

Barnhill shared it has been years since he enjoyed a heating and cooling system, adding the money he was saving up for the purchase was used for emergency repairs to his roof, which recently started leaking.

He was back to square one with the home A/C.

Once Stanford had the layout of the home and details of what was needed, all that was left was the surprise.

That took place Saturday afternoon when Herrmann and his family brought Barnhill to Beaumont Municipal Airport for what he thought was a Salute-to-Veterans event.

The fun included two flyovers and remarks from Beaumont Mayor Roy West.

“Lee Potter and American Air Systems, what a tremendous job yall have been doing for years as a local business and giving back to the community,” West said.

“Kindness is an important part of any community, and it has to be demonstrated through our leaders. I applaud yall for your leadership in the community for doing this. I know you bring many people together as a part of this. The idea that yall honored Veterans this year is special.”

Potter, American Air Systems co-owner, the business team and nomination committee had the opportunity and pleasure to give back to someone who “served our country and is part of the foundation that we stand on.”

“Your neighbors nominated you for this,” Potter said to Barnhill. “We had to lie to you because we told you that we were trying to find a board for your air conditioner. Well, we found the board. It’s in the brand new air conditioning system we are going to be installing for you. We want to say, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for the service you have done for this country. Without you, we don’t get to do what we get to do everyday. Sir, thank you.”

Potter promised the new unit would be installed before Christmas.

The American Air Systems team shared their thanks to Chris Meaux for facilitating the airport location, and Seth Wells, a Navy Veteran and Commander of the American Legion Post 33, for assisting throughout the 2023 AmerAirCares campaign.

American Air Systems partnered with Carrier Enterprise and Carrier Manufacturing to make the award possible.

American Air Systems has been in business for 41 years and operates as a family owned operation. This campaign is one of many ways American Air Systems stays committed to Southeast Texas.