Former comrades build home for wounded vet
Posted December 4, 2009 3:49 p.m. EST
Updated December 5, 2009 7:16 a.m. EST
Fayetteville, N.C. — A Fort Bragg soldier severely injured in Iraq is getting a new home in Fayetteville, thanks to an army of volunteers.
Members of Homes for Our Troops planned to spend the weekend erecting the home in the Lakeside subdivision for Army Staff Sgt. Maurice Craft. A member of the 82nd Airborne Division, Craft lost his left leg while serving in Iraq in November 2003 when a roadside bomb went off.
Homes for Our Troops builds specially adapted homes for seriously injured veterans at no cost to them. The group has built 48 homes nationwide since it began in 2004, and another 27 homes are in progress. Local contractors provide materials for each project.
For Craft's home, Friday began with a cacophony of hammering, sawing and nail-guns shooting. Dozens of volunteer builders had much of the home's frame standing by mid-morning.
Then, soldiers stood at attention as a woman sang The Star-Spangled Banner.
Craft, a single father with two daughters who has medically retired from the Army, showed up shortly after noon and marveled at the work that had been completed.
"I don't know if they've been given 5-Hour Energy drinks or whatever, but I had no clue these guys would be moving this fast," he said. "That shows you that people still care. They want to get things done."
Sgt. First Class Daniel Metzdorf was among the volunteers working on Craft's home. He lost his own leg in Iraq about the same time Craft was wounded and said Craft helped him through months of rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
"Having that friend, Sgt. Maurice Craft, smile on his face, huge, warm heart, willing to do anything for a fellow trooper, (that) was awesome," Metzdorf said.
"I'm not going to quit today. I might quit tomorrow, but today I'm not going to quit. I'm going to live life today and every day," he said. "Sgt. Maurice Craft does that and takes care of his two little girls and says, 'I'm not going to quit today.'"
Sgt. First Class Brian Edmiston, who rushed Craft to a hospital six years ago, also was helping build the house Friday.
"I wouldn't miss it for the world. Nothing could keep me away from this place," Edmiston said.
"He helped save my life," Craft said as he hugged his former comrade. "Now, he's helping me build a new chapter in my life."
Although the new home will have its roof, siding and windows by Sunday, it will be at least another three months before he and his family can move in, officials said.