Homes Provides New House for Injured Marine
The customized home being built in Irvington for a former Marine who lost both of his legs in combat in Iraq should be completed in August, project spokesman Larry Gill said at the site Tuesday.
Greg Edwards, walking with two artificial legs and a cane, toured the home Tuesday with his wife, Christina, 28, and their daughters, Caitlin, 6, and Paige, 4, as masonry workers outside neared the end of the brick work.
"I come out here every other day," the former sergeant said. "It looks real good."
The local project is sponsored by the Massachusetts-based Homes for Our Troops, and is being spearheaded by Gill, a National Guard and Marine veteran from Semmes who himself was seriously wounded in Iraq. Gill said the house is being built to specifically suit Edwards' needs and also will have energy-efficient features.
Area donors have given more than $85,000 for the project, while building-trade retailers have chipped in supplies, according to Tom Benoit, a spokesman at the Homes for Our Troops headquarters in Taunton, Mass.
Gill, who serves on the staff of Homes for Our Troops, said the nonprofit group has constructed 27 homes in 22 states for U.S. military personnel severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The houses have an average value of $200,000 to $250,000, officials have said, and are built at no cost to the disabled veterans who qualify. "We have about 130 applications from all over the nation that we're sorting through," Gill said.
The Irvington project is the only one being sponsored by Homes for Our Troops in Alabama now, but several Alabama applications are being considered, Gill said.
On Jan. 25, more than 100 well-wishers turned out to celebrate the groundbreaking. The featured speaker was U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, who looked over at Edwards and noted, "The freedoms we have come at great expense."
Edwards, who had hoped to have a career in the Marines Corps, stepped on an improvised explosive device in Iraq on Oct. 21, 2006. He eventually underwent 42 surgeries.
He said he plans to attend the University of South Alabama once he is settled in his new home, although he has not yet decided on a field of study.
Edwards grew up in Glenn Allen, Miss., but his parents, David and Cheryl Edwards, live in the Mobile area, and he has other relatives nearby, so he wanted to bring his family here, too.
The general contractor for the project is Rod Cooke Construction Inc. of Mobile, which is volunteering its efforts in a partnership with the Mobile County Public School System.