Wounded Marine gets new home in south Mobile County
A 25-year-old former Marine sergeant who had both of his legs blown off and his left hand shattered by an improvised explosive device in Iraq received the keys to his new home in Irvington on Saturday, ready to start a new chapter in his life.
Greg Edwards, standing tall on two artificial legs, grabbed and hugged Larry Gill, who also was seriously wounded in Iraq, as Gill handed him the keys to his spacious, customized brick home on five acres.
Gill had spearheaded a yearlong campaign in the Mobile area for a nonprofit Taunton, Mass.-based organization called Homes for Our Troops, to raise funds and donations of building supplies and labor for the house.
About 175 people ? many of them members of local veterans organizations ? were on hand for the key presentation ceremony, during which Gill told Edwards, "On behalf of a grateful nation, here are the keys to your house."
"This is the very first home constructed in the state of Alabama" by Homes for Our Troops, Gill noted, adding that it is the 31st such home completed by the organization nationwide for severely injured veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said 22 more such homes are under construction nationwide.
Scheduled to move into the home that evening when all the furniture arrived were Edwards, his wife, Christina, 29, and their daughters, Caitlin, 7, and Paige, 5.
The home on South Field Road includes three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a living room and a dining room, as well as a two-car garage.
"The girls picked out the colors for their bedrooms out of about 5,000 colors from Sherwin-Williams," said Greg Edwards' mom, Ann Edwards, laughing, as the excited girls dashed from room to room.
Ann Edwards noted that all of the lights and the fans in the house are operated by remote control to accommodate her son. A washer and dryer that are loaded from the front were installed "to be accessible for him if he needs to do his laundry without his legs on," she said.
In the kitchen, Ann Edwards noted, "The countertops are lowered so he could cook if he wanted to. Everything was made with him in mind."
The stocked pantry was an unlikely source of a poignant link to the battlefield and a Navy corpsman who saved Greg Edward's life Oct. 21, 2006, after Edwards stepped on the improvised explosive device. Ann Edwards said the corpsman, Christopher "Doc" Anderson, kept her son alive on the battlefield, only to be killed in Iraq later himself in the line of duty.
"We have since become very close to the Anderson family," Ann Edwards said. "We are in contact with them every day."
She said the corpsman's parents, Rick and Deborah Anderson of Longmont, Colo., sent many of the food items stocking the pantry to celebrate Greg Edwards and his family moving into their new home.
In front of the home Saturday, an American flag whipped in the wind atop a flagpole in front of the house, a red and gold Marine Corps flag flying just below it.
Members of the P.L. Wilson Detachment of the Marine Corps League were on hand in their red blazers and covers, and a unit from the elite Marine Corps Reserve's 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company presented the colors.
"Today is about recognizing Sgt. Edwards as a true hero," said retired Navy Rear Adm. Clyde Marsh, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs.