HOUSTON—The widow of a fallen Marine received the keys and a mortgage-free deed to her new home in Alvin Tuesday.
It fulfilled a promise made by the Houston Texans and a home-building organization called Operation Finally Home.
Marine Staff Sgt. Scott Wood served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Injuries suffered from an improvised explosive device while he was on duty led to several painful surgeries. His family said he also suffered from PTSD. While he was at home in Alvin visiting family and friends, he died unexpectedly in his sleep on Nov. 20, 2011. He was 35 years old.
Four weeks later, his widow, Sara Wood, and their son Landon were invited to Reliant Stadium to be guests of the Houston Texans at a game against the Carolina Panthers. They were told they would receive free Christmas presents, especially for 5-year-old Landon. Landon did get several presents. But the Texans and Operation Finally Home CEO Dan Wallrath also surprised them with the promise to build her a new home. The presentation was broadcast on the stadium’s video screens,
Fast forward 10 months to Tuesday in the Kendall Lakes subdivision in Alvin, and dozens greeted Sara and Landon Wood at their new 2,391 square-foot home.
“We owe this to this family,” said Operation Finally Home founder and CEO Dan Wallrath. “As Americans, we owe this to this family.”
Operation Finally Home has coordinated the construction of 47 homes in the last 7 years for injured military veterans. This is the first home they have completed for a military widow.
“Life is never going to be the same for them,” said Wallrath. “But at least with a new home they have a fresh start.”
The fresh start, also courtesy of the Houston company Dynamic Builders, also came with a free year of electricity from Reliant Energy. Gallery Furniture also fully furnished the home. Several organizations including the Marine Corps League #668 in Galveston helped raise money for the property and building costs. And Houston Texans Chris Myers and Whitney Merciless attended the open house with a few gifts of their own. They presented the family with a framed photo of Reliant Stadium signed by all of the Houston Texans. And Myers also promised Landon a free seat at all Texans games, whenever he asks.
“You can have one of my tickets alright,” he said high-fiving the little Texans fan. “We’ll make that happen,” said the Houston Texan’s veteran center.
One entire wall of Landon’s room has also been painted with a mural of his favorite Texan, Andre Johnson.
But the most notable room in the house is the wing just off the living room, painted red and dedicated to the memory of Staff Sgt. Scott Wood. Sara Wood placed a trunk there with her late husband’s uniforms and memorabilia so her son can touch his father’s memory whenever he wants. His pictures hang on the walls and an American flag from his funeral sits on a side table with all of his medals including a Purple Heart.
“I want everyone to come in to know why we have this home,” said Sara Wood. “It’s because of him. It’s because of who he is, what he’s done. It’s Scotty.”
“What doesn’t it mean,” she said of the new home provided mortgage-free and free of charge. “It means everything.”
“It’s a home. It’s a life for Landon. It’s security. It’s everything,” she said.
Which is exactly what little Landon said when we asked him what he liked about his new house the most.
“Everything,” he said.
“It’s heartwarming to see that there are still so many good people,” said Sara Wood.