Injured U.S. Marine veteran given custom home

12:00 AM, Dec 5, 2013   |    comments
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Lutz, Florida -- A former United States Marine who lost both of his legs in an explosion received a piece of his independence back on Wednesday evening.

Cpl. Justin Gaertner was welcomed to his new home in Lutz by Tampa Bay's Patriot Guard Members, American flags lining his new street and driveway.

The non-profit organization, Homes for Our Troops, raised about $430,000 in corporate and private donations to build Cpl. Gaertner a new home that is specifically designed for his needs. It includes wider doorways and lower counter tops. It has 150 adaptions for his lifestyle.

"I could't sleep last night thinking about my new house!" said Cpl. Gaertner. "I still cannot believe they wanted to build me a home. I was astonished and now we are here!"

Cpl. Gaertner said he has accomplished more without his legs than he did with them.

"He has run eight marathons, and done many more things that I still cannot believe and I am so proud of him," said his mother, Jill Dallabetta.

"I am so nervous being here," said Cpl. Gaertner. "While I was riding my bike over here, I had to keep the visor up to wipe away my tears."

He rides a specially designed motorcycle that allows him to ride with his prosthetic legs.

He was handed a ceremonial key, and then the real keys to open the doors to his new home in front of his, family, friends, co-workers, with Homeland Security and fellow veterans in attendance.

Cpl. Gaertner and his girlfriend plan to buy a real Christmas tree for the new home and decorate it for the holidays this coming weekend.

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