SUISUN CITY, CA (KGO/CNN) – A retired Marine Corps Iraq veteran returns to the home he bought with his wife bought in January. But thanks to a friend and thousands of dollars of donations, they hardly recognize the place.
The surprise began with flags lining Highway 12 in Solano County, California. A trail of them, actually, leading to their newly renovated home.
But when Master Sergeant Jacinto Bernardo showed up in a limo with his family today, nice was the last thing they expected.
“We did it for you brother, alright?” said Master Sgt. Bernardo’s friend, Jeremy Epperson. “We did it for you.”
Their home was a mess when the Bernardos bought it.
“We chose it because it was the only thing we can afford, sir,” said his wife, Julie Bernardo.
The home on which they expected to spend time and money to make it right.
The home he had asked Marine buddy Jeremy Epperson to keep an eye on during the months in between.
Thanks to Epperson, his old boot camp and Marine pal, who took one look at the place and deemed that no retiring Marine should return to such a mess.
He rounded up volunteers, money, and put $70,000 worth of work into the house as part of a program he’s calling Homecoming Heroes.
“I feel there are many programs for wounded veterans, but not many for retirees,” Epperson explained.
New floors, new carpets, new fixtures, a new kitchen, and even a new backyard.
“This is nice,” Master Sgt. Bernardo said.
“Don’t step on your grass,” Epperson joked.
After twenty one years of military housing, the nicest place they have ever had.
“We’re proud of our service,” Master Sgt. Bernardo said. “And you know, those guys who didn’t make it back, and those guys that didn’t make it back in one piece, they deserve this not me.”
Well, master sergeant, your best friend and new community beg to differ. Welcome home. For good.
“We’re not going to move anymore. Not after so many years of moving around,” Master Sgt. Bernardo said.