BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) - Their house burned down destroying almost everything they owned.
Two childhood friends, Frank Ortega and Johnny Leyba, had returned home to New Mexico after serving the Army. They moved into a home south of Belen.
Tuesday morning, they woke up to flames and narrowly escaped.
"I grabbed the blanket and I pulled it down and that caught fire," Leyba said. "And then it singed my hair and my eyebrows."
One day after hearing the story of the two soldiers on the news, the community is turning out to help them rebuild their lives. Ortega and Leyba have received phone calls from strangers offering to help.
The American Legion Riders of New Mexico donated $1,500 to help them get back on their feet.
"We're brothers, and we're there to help them out," said Joel Brown, vice president of the American Legion Riders of New Mexico.
The Socorro Police Department is taking Leyba and his 21-month-old daughter Christmas shopping.
Leyba said his daughter was supposed to be at the house that morning of the fire but was at her mother's house instead.
"My first thoughts was thinking of the little child that lost everything she knew," said Capt. Angel Garcia of the Socorro Police Department.
The daughter's dog died in the fire.
"The puppy was her's," Leyba said. "That's why me and Frank tried real hard to go back in."
Everything besides Leyba's Purple Heart was gone. Leyba earned the medal after he and his unit survived an IED blast in Afghanistan.
The local Purple Heart Chapter is working with the men to replace their other medals that were destroyed in the fire.
The police started a clothing drive at the Sorroco Health Clinic and set up an account for both soldiers at the First State Bank in Socorro.
Socorro police adopt a family each Christmas and buy toys and other items for them. Because of the bad weather over the holidays they couldn't do that. So instead, they adopted Lebya and Ortega.
Ortega and Leyba are thankful that for all the support they are getting. They know the country they fought for, is giving them another fighting chance.
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