ELYSBURG, Pa. — David Noblit looked at the large ceremonial key that he just received from the Homes for Our Troops organization.
"I don't think it's going to fit in the front door," he joked.
Hundreds of veterans, volunteers and supporters then cheered and threw in a "Oorah" for good measure as the Marine corporal and his family entered their new home at 53 Heartland Drive.
Inside, everyone was impressed by the spacious home and some of its features that were specially designed to help the wounded soldier do more things in his home and be more independent.
"I am very grateful for everyone's support in making this happen," Noblit said when he went inside. "This is just amazing."
The home was built for Noblit by the Homes for Our Troops organization which specializes in constructing homes for wounded veterans. Noblit, a 2007 graduate of Line Mountain High School and a native of Herndon, was severely injured in a IED (improvised explosive device) blast Oct. 20, 2010, at Patrol Base Fulod, Afghanistan. He lost both legs and sustained an injury to his left arm.
Hundreds lined Heartland Drive holding American flags and other signs of support as the family drove up to their new driveway, where they were greeted by family members, friends and supporters. In the area that will eventually be occupied by a lawn and deck, a special key ceremony was held to welcome Noblit, his wife, Amanda, and young son, Cayden, home.
"It is a very happy occasion that we all gather here for David and his family to come to their new home," said Chris Mitchell, community outreach supervisor for Homes For Our Troops.
Brig. Gen. Andrew P. Schafer, deputy commander of the 28th Infantry Division, Pennsylvania National Guard, was among the many speakers.
"We talk about the Peyton Mannings and other sports heroes as people to look up
to," Schafer said, "but I think young soldiers like David here should get recognition for doing what they do each and every day."
"People who serve our nation are so underappreciated," said Northumberland County Commissioner Stephen Bridy. "As a nation, we need to do more, and it is just tremendous the effort that has been put out here."
Bridy told Noblit he lives only a block away if he needs any help, adding that his wife offered to make a casserole for the Noblit family.
"I would stay away from the tuna noodle, and go with the shepherd's pie," Bridy joked.
Bridy also announced that a portion of the proceeds from the upcoming Commissioners Cup Golf Tournament in August will go to Homes for Our Troops.
Before Carlo Gaita, of Homes for Our Troops, handed Noblit the keys to his new home, he talked about about how the Marine was injured.
"Cpl. Noblit was in a unit that was part of the fastest and intense firefights in Afghanistan, being involved in more than 100 of them before he was injured," Gaita said. "When the IED was triggered and Cpl. Noblit was injured, his comrades administered life-saving aid as they continued to fight off the insurgents."
In his remarks, Noblit thanked everyone for coming out. He said he was amazed by the number of people there.
"When we pulled up to the house, it looked like a Walmart parking lot on Black Friday," Noblit joked. "I appreciate everything you all have done for me and my family and being by my side since the beginning. I can't wait to help with the dishes in the house and throw a football in the yard with my son."
The next event at the Noblit home will be May 31 when volunteers will help Fleming's Landscaping put down sod and landscaping for the back and front yards. Those who wish to help are asked to sign up at the Homes for Our Troops website.