Local scouts, children and the rest of the community are asked to grab their American flags to welcome Union County's newest residents.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, June 7, Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jason Gibson, and his wife, Kara, will participate in a groundbreaking ceremony for their new home, 17185 Clark Dawson Road, provided by the nonprofit Homes for Our Troops.
Gibson said the couple found out in August they were approved for the program.
"It was load off -- all the worrying in how to provide for the family. It will help out a lot around the house for me," Gibson said. "I can take care of myself finally and ease some of the burden off my wife."
Typical homes take four to seven months to complete and cost $430,000 on average, according to a spokeswoman for the nonprofit.
Gibson, a combat veteran, lost both legs in May 2012, so the home will be designed with special accommodations.
The 28-year-old joined the Army on Sept. 1, 2005 after graduating from Westerville South High School. He served two tours of duty in Iraq as a combat engineer.
On May 30, 2012, during his third combat deployment, Gibson stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while on a foot patrol and route clearance mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Both legs were badly injured in the explosion as were an arm and hand. He was evacuated to Kandahar Airfield Hospital.
Weeks later, Gibson was moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he underwent 20 surgeries as well as aggressive physical and occupational therapy. It was there fellow soldiers suggested he apply to Homes for Our Troops.
After about two months at Walter Reed, he spent the next year in San Diego recovering.
"I met another guy there with my same injury and he said, 'Yeah, definitely put your packet in,' because it helped him out a lot," Gibson said.
Homes for Our Troops is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides houses at no cost to eligible retired veterans who were injured in combat after Sept. 11, 2001. The organization is funded by donations from individuals, companies and foundations around the country.
Gibson and his wife are expecting their first child in November. They chose Union County for their new home because of family in the area and proximity to Columbus. The house is being built in Allen Township.
"I like to say I grew up out there because in summertime, we would go out and see the family and the grandparents' house and always loved it," he said.
Gibson has been awarded the Purple Heart medal, the Army Commendation Medal (twice), the Army Achievement Medal (five times) and the Combat Action Badge.
"I'm doing great. I'm doing all kinds of stuff," he said. "I'm having a lot of fun."
Gibson enjoys handcycling, surfing, golfing, skiing and fishing and is currently attending a monthlong flight school at Purdue University's Department of Aviation Technology. He received a scholarship from Able Flight, a nonprofit that facilitates free training for people with physical disabilities.
This fall, he will start classes at Ohio State University.
"I'm leaning towards mechanical or aeronautical engineering," he said.
Since moving to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, he and Kara have been going to church with his grandparents at the Church of Christ on state Route 31 in Marysville.
"You can sit around and be depressed all the time or you can go out and enjoy life and have fun," he said.
On Saturday, the Gibsons will be escorted from Marysville to the groundbreaking by the Ohio Patriot Motorcycle Guard. The procession will depart at 10:30 a.m. from the Union County Sheriff's Office/Justice Center parking lot on West Fifth Street, and will travel along Northwest Parkway, Holycross Epps Road and then south across Allen Center Road to Clark Dawson Road.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ken Bonnell, chairman of the Union County Military Family Support Group, asked spectators to line the route and wave American flags to show appreciation for Gibson's service and sacrifice.
Parking will be restricted along Clark Dawson Road, so attendees are encouraged to park at Joe Mel's United Road facility, 21799 Northwest Parkway. Shuttle buses will be available there starting at 9:30 a.m. to transport people to the ceremony site.