HUNTERSVILLE — Escorted by two Humvees down a street lined with 150 well-wishers, retired U.S. Army Sgt. Ron Wiley, his wife, Ashley, and their children received a heros welcome on Wednesday and keys to a new home.
We can look at Ron and Ashley and say, Yes, you are finally home, Bill Saint, president and CEO of Charlotte-based Classica Homes, told the family to cheers from the crowd.
Classica led the effort to build and furnish the two-story, 2,764-square-foot home; it also includes a three-car garage. The home is in the Treasure Cove community off Stratton Farm Road.
At least 120 companies provided free labor and materials, from plumbing and electrical work to food for the refrigerator and pantry.
Ron Wiley, 35, received numerous medals during his 17-year military career, which included two tours in Iraq. Wiley endured several explosions, one of which blew up the Humvee he was driving. The windshield crashed into his head. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and has severe post-traumatic stress disorder.
We can never repay Ron and thousands of men and women, and their families, in the armed forces for the debt they have given to keep our freedoms and keep America the country we are all so dearly proud of, Saint told the crowd during a ceremony outside the Wileys new home, which was given to them debt-free.
Saint called Wiley a true American hero.
But Wiley, on a tour of his new home, looked around at the crowds of volunteers and said, These are all my heroes.
The home, he said, gives my family hope.
Classica started construction in late summer, in partnership with Operation Finally Home, American Country Countdown with Kix Brooks and LP Building Products.
Operation Finally Home has helped provide 44 custom, mortgage-free homes in 18 states to returning soldiers and widows of fallen soldiers. The Wileys home was the first in the Charlotte area the nonprofit assisted.
The Wileys were involved in each step of construction. They walked the home site before the summer groundbreaking and selected the interior and exterior finishes. They also watched the construction.
The family also includes Chealsy, 14, William, 2, and Hope, 1. Chealsy is so proud of her dad that she intends to serve in the military, too.
The volunteers outside their home on Wednesday left the family a surprise inside, as the Wileys had no clue it came fully furnished.
Can I take my shoes off? a stunned Ashley, 29, asked.
Sure, its your home, replied Graydon Jackson, Classicas project manager on the home.
Marusak: 704-358-5067; Twitter: @jmarusak