08/09/2012 02:09 pm ET Updated Nov 20, 2012

John Villneff, Vietnam Veteran, Dies Saving Granddaughter From Intruders

A Vietnam vet who earned two purple hearts for his brave service died a hero Wednesday when he shielded his granddaughter from getting shot.

As five intruders wielding guns and bats broke into the Villneffs' Detroit home late Wednesday night, the four children ran next door to their grandfather, John’s, house for help, reports. When one robber noticed the 12-year-old girl taking pictures of them with her iPad, he opened fire and John instinctively jumped in front to protect her.

The heroic grandpa was shot twice and died on his doorstep, the news outlet reports.

"I didn't even get to tell him I loved him," John's son, Michael, told the news outlet. "These cowardly, heartless, worthless people took a key person in our family away from us for nothing."

The robbers made off with jewelry, a cable box and several video games, according to the Detroit Free Press, before fatally shooting the 62-year-old veteran who served in both the Marines and the Navy.

The family cannot afford to pay for a proper service and are working on setting up a funeral fund.

“He was a very good man, just a good old Southern boy, loved to help people,” John’s daughter, Melissa, told the Detroit Free Press. “He never bothered anybody.”