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Wounded Marine to get new home

NAVARRE, Fla. -- Marine Sgt. Anthony McDaniel drove up to the site of what will be his new home in Navarre on Saturday with an escort of cars and motorcycles.

He got out of the driver's seat to applause and hugs. Red high-tops showed brightly against the dark material of his prosthetic legs.

McDaniel lost both of his legs and his left hand to an improvised explosive device in Kajaki, Afghanistan, in 2010.

On Saturday, spirits were high as McDaniel and his 4-year-old son, Anthony III, joined others to break ground on Tupelo Avenue on what will be the family's new home.

The house will be built through Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that provides customized homes for severely injured veterans across the country.
Veterans choose where they want to live. McDaniel's first choice was the Emerald Coast.

Jeremy Stewart of Jeremy Stewart Construction Inc. in Crestview spoke for a moment about the project.

"It's an honor to be part of this," said Stewart, whose company will work on the house. "Living in Northwest Florida, we've all been touched by the military. This is a very humble thing that we can do to give back to them."

In 10 years, Homes for Our Troops has built 166 houses for severely wounded veterans.

Larry Gill, the veterans liaison for the organization, said about 50 projects are underway. Another 30 or 40 names are on a waiting list, he added.

"This is the first step in the new chapter of Anthony's life," Gill said. "We don't look at it as a charity. We look at it as a moral obligation to say thank you."

Gill said the houses give the veterans the freedom and independence they might have lost after their injuries.

McDaniel thanked everyone for their support.

"I didn't think it was going to be like this," he said. "I love this area."

tpruett@nwfdailynews.com

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