New smart home for wounded hero unveiled
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.”
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.
David Bixler enters his new “smart home” for the first time.