Home for a hero: Nonprofit gives house to wounded warrior
Posted March 26, 2015
Fuquay-Varina, N.C. — A former Camp Lejeune Marine who lost his leg in combat in Afghanistan got a new beginning Thursday.
Cpl. Ryan Wightman and his wife, Melissa, received a new home, courtesy of Operation: Coming Home, a nonprofit program that builds homes for disabled combat veterans who served in the Middle East.
During a morning ceremony, a man flew in on a glider to deliver the keys to the custom-built, 3,000-square-foot house in the Parker Pointe community of Fuquay-Varina. Gov. Pat McCrory was on hand to welcome the couple.
Ryan Wightman, 24, was injured in May 2012 while trying to help a fallen Marine in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. An improvised explosive device shattered his leg. After two years of multiple surgeries to try to save his lower leg, doctors removed it in September.
Before accepting the home, Ryan Wightman asked for a moment of silence for his fallen comrades.
"As a big a day as this is for me, there's a lot of people who didn't come back," he said.
The Wightmans, who left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to make the drive to North Carolina, said the experience of getting a home is surreal.
"The home is beautiful," Ryan Wightman said. "They took into consideration everything that we asked for."
The Wightmans are from Orange, Park, Fla., but said they wanted to live in the Raleigh area because of its beauty and the people being so friendly. They want to have children, and the home is a "strong incentive" to start a family, Ryan Wightman said.
"It's such a big, big thing for me to have a home that's our own," he said.
Wightman's home is the ninth made possible for wounded warriors by Operation: Coming Home. The volunteer project is a joint effort by the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County, Royal Oaks Homes and various other area nonprofits and businesses.