New smart home for wounded hero un­veiled

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­news.com

It was like a dream come true for re­tired U.S. Army Cpl. David Bixler, a sil­ver-star re­cip­i­ent and true Amer­i­can hero who was cat­a­stroph­i­cally in­jured in a fire­fight as he saved a young Afghan sol­dier from ven­tur­ing into an un­cleared mine­field. On Tues­day, about six years af­ter his in­jury, a gi­ant Amer­i­can flag was pulled away and his new cus­tom-built “smart home” was un­veiled in Wal­dorf, a thank you from the Stephen Siller Tun­nel to Tow­ers Foun­da­tion.

“Our free­dom, it was not free. It’s paid by those who gave all,” Bixler told the crowd. “I only gave some. Some gave all.”

En­ter­ing the home for the first time, Bixler was more than pleased.

“When I first came through the door, my first thoughts were, ‘Wow, they ac­tu­ally kept their prom­ise,’” he said. “They’re

do­ing that for a lot of us. It makes me re­ally happy.”

“It’s not real yet, if you know what I mean? It’s one of those things where you keep want­ing it to hap­pen and then it fi­nally hap­pens and I don’t know what to do,” he con­tin­ued. “I don’t even know what to think; it’s beau­ti­ful. It’s ab­so­lutely gor­geous.”

The two-story home, where he will live with his girl­friend, Ash­ley Morgan, and his daugh­ter, Elaine, is com­plete with three bed­rooms and three bath­rooms, an el­e­va­tor, re­motely con­trolled tem­per­a­ture con­trol and in-home se­cu­rity fea­tures, and cus­tom­ized ameni­ties de­signed with his in­de­pen­dence and con­ve­nience in mind.

“I didn’t know this ex­isted be­fore. When I was hurt, my first thoughts were, ‘Well, this is my life and things are go­ing to be a pain in the butt for now on,” Bixler said. “Never go­ing to be able to have a nor­mal life again. I’m happy to be proved wrong for once. This is more than I could pos­si­bly of dreamed for; It re­ally is. It’s an amaz­ing, amaz­ing job.”

The home was an un­der­tak­ing of the Build­ing for Amer­ica’s Bravest, a pro­gram of the Stephen Siller Tun­nel to Tow­ers Foun­da­tion ded­i­cated to build­ing spe­cially adapted smart homes for in­jured ser­vice mem­bers. Stephen Siller, a Brook­lyn fire­fighter who lost his life on 9/11, ran through the Brook­lyn Bat­tery Tun­nel to­ward the Twin Tow­ers to help save others.

“It’s a glo­ri­ous day,” said Frank Siller, Stephen’s brother and CEO of the foun­da­tion. “[When Bixler came through the door] I saw that he was over­whelmed and to see that, I got emo­tional. This re­ally is mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in his life, and it’s a step for­ward for him. He’s such a pos­i­tive per­son. He in­spires all of us to re­ally get out there and do more.”

“To put in th­ese fea­tures, to give them back some of their in­de­pen­dence … They want back some of their in­de­pen­dence, th­ese are the most in­de­pen­dent peo­ple in the world,” Siller con­tin­ued. “They don’t want to ask some­body for a glass of wa­ter or to cook some­thing ... This gives them back that free­dom, so it’s a great feel­ing.

In the sum­mer of 2010, Bixler was de­ployed to Afghanistan with the 1st Bat­tal­ion, 320th Field Ar­tillery, 2nd Bri­gade Com­bat Team, 101st Air­borne Di­vi­sion in sup­port of Op­er­a­tion En­dur­ing Free­dom.

On Sept. 30, 2010, Bixler was lead­ing a team of three Afghan Na­tional Army sol­diers through a heav­ily mined area in the Arghandab River Val­ley when his squad was am­bushed and came un­der heavy enemy fire. Dur­ing the ac­tion, a young sol­dier sep­a­rated from the rest of the unit to­ward an area that had not been cleared yet for hid­den ex­plo­sive de­vices. Bixler ran af­ter him, push­ing him to safety, as he stepped on an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice. He was se­verely in­jured in the blast, los­ing both legs and suf­fer­ing other trau­matic in­juries.

“To other vet­er­ans, I’d like to say that this a trib­ute to ba­si­cally prove that their sacri­fice wasn’t for noth­ing,” Bixler said. “To the Amer­i­can pub­lic, this isn’t free. This is paid for by peo­ple like [Lt.] Tod Weaver, [Sgt.] Kyle Stout, guys who gave their lives to keep the mis­sion go­ing for­ward, who en­cour­aged me to keep the mis­sion go­ing for­ward.

“Peo­ple like them gave all, and they made this pos­si­ble for peo­ple like me.”

STAFF PHO­TOS BY AN­DREW RICHARD­SON

Re­tired U.S. Army Cpl. David Bixler sees his new cus­tom-built “smart home” for the first time on Tues­day.

David Bixler raises the Amer­i­can flag in front of his new home in Wal­dorf, built through the Build­ing for Amer­ica’s Bravest, a pro­gram of the Stephen Siller Tun­nel to Tow­ers Foun­da­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to help­ing mem­bers of the mil­i­tary and first re­spon­ders.

STAFF PHOTO BY AN­DREW RICHARD­SON

David Bixler en­ters his new “smart home” for the first time.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.