MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
More than 30 Marines and Sailors volunteered several weekends this summer with Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point's Single Marine Program and the American Heroes Home Build of Pamlico County to build a home for the family of a fellow service member.
American Heroes Home Build is a program established by the Military Missions in Action, an organization dedicated to assisting veterans with disabilities, members of the armed forces and their families.
“The Cottrell family was selected to receive the house, not only because he suffers from a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder, but because we felt the home would make the biggest impact on his family,” said Michael Dorman, executive director of Military Missions in Action.
Retired Marine Sgt. Warren Cottrell Jr. served in the Marine Corps for 11 years. He conducted two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan where he was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, causing the TBI he lives with today.
“It warms my heart seeing the young Marines and Sailors volunteer out here because they want to give back to their brothers and sisters,” said Dorman. “There is nothing better or more satisfying than giving back to the veterans who have served and given so much to our country.”
The Cottrell family said they were overwhelmed, excited, anxious and inexpressibly thankful for the work the volunteers are putting into their new home.
The volunteers assisted with building projects including framework, cosmetics, electrical and plumbing installation.
"It's been years since I've had Marine-to-Marine communication and bonding like this," said Cottrell. "It means so much to my family knowing that these Marines are taking their own time to come here and help build this home just for us. It is amazing; we are indescribably appreciative."
"The Marines and Sailors out here are all heroes," said Cottrell. "We are forever grateful."
Marines and Sailors from various units aboard the air station came together for a common cause, said Jennifer Krivohlavy, the Single Marine Program coordinator for Cherry Point. The number of volunteers that are willing to help out a family in need is overwhelming.
“Without the volunteers this event would not be possible,” said Krivohlavy. “They are the key to bringing it all together."
Being involved in an event like a home build is rewarding both for the family and the Marines and Sailors volunteering, said Sgt. Kaleb M. Ihde, a generator mechanic with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274.
“My team performed rough electrical work and rough framing during our time at the site,” said Ihde. “It felt really great being able to help someone in this way. The opportunity was really unique, and it always feels good to get to give back to those who have dedicated so much of themselves to serving others.”
Following a series of interviews and a detailed selection process, Cottrell was informed that his family would be blessed with a new home.
The Marines and Sailors who volunteered were able to be present at the build site Aug. 2, when Warren, his wife, Maria, and their daughters Sara, 14, and Faith, 12, were informed that they would be receiving the home.
“We had the opportunity to meet the receiving family at the time they were informed they would receive the house. They were totally ecstatic and extremely grateful” said Ihde.
It was significant for many of the volunteers to work with an organization that focuses on veterans and families of those who were traumatically injured in combat, said Ihde. As active-duty military, we can appreciate the sacrifices the veterans and their families have made.
“The man of the house is a Marine sergeant, and I am a Marine sergeant,” said Ihde. “I felt a real brotherhood standing there with all the volunteers, the sergeant and his family. It was truly a rewarding experience.”