Frank Wasson III, his wife Brooke, daughter Brielle and sons Jackson and Drayson listen to presentations during the ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 22, turning over to them keys to a new home in West Salem. Homes For Our Troops raised the money and organized construction. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)
Frank Wasson III, a wounded Army veteran, and his family were escorted to their new custom-built home in West Salem Saturday morning by a Salem fire truck and a Polk County sheriff’s vehicle.
After a 45-minute ceremony, Wasson, 38, raised an American flag on the pole in his front yard, cut a yellow ribbon tied across the front porch and then received the keys to the mortgage-free house that features more than 40 adaptations to accommodate his injury.
On Aug. 18, 2010, Wasson, a staff sergeant, was on his second deployment as an infantry squad leader in Kunar Province in Afghanistan. His platoon was ambushed during a night patrol and his vehicle was hit by two rocket-propelled grenades.
The vehicle ended up in a cornfield, making it difficult for rescuers to locate him and his soldiers.
Wasson lost his left leg in the attack.
He endured two years of surgeries and rehabilitation at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and then Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston.
He left the Army in 2013.
He joined the service after graduating from North Salem High School. He also had attended Bethel Elementary School and Parrish and Houck middle schools.
He’s back in Salem in a new home designed with widened doorways for wheelchair access, a roll-in shower, and pull-down shelving and lowered countertops in the kitchen.
Wasson no longer has to navigate over carpets or thresholds.
The home, with four bedrooms in 2,800 square feet, was donated to the Wasson family by Homes For Our Troops, a national non-profit organization. The group raised the money to build the home from donors and corporate partners.
Saturday’s transfer of the house to Wasson, his wife Brooke and their children Drayson, Jackson and Brielle, began with the the National Anthem by Paul Klemme, the director of the Willamette Master Chorus.
About 45 people then joined in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
Speakers included Kelsey Woodhouse, community outreach coordinator, and Rich Pratt, director of construction operations, both representing Homes For Our Troops; Rob Hudson and Karen Sliger of Del Rio Vineyards, which sponsored the event; Polk County Commissioner Lyle Mordhorst; Joel Bramwell of East Metro Association of Realtors; and John Hammer of John Hammer Construction.
Also on hand were Alex and Kim Hussey, who live in a home provided by the organization in Washougal, Washington.
Hussey, an Army private first class, was hit by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan in August 2012. He lost both legs, his left hand, and sustained a traumatic brain injury.
Wasson was the final speaker, praising the support given him by his family, the community and Homes For Our Troops.
"I cannot thank you enough for giving my family and me the gift of of a fresh start and making things much easier,” he said. “It will be a huge relief to me mentally and financially.”
Despite his handicap, Wasson continues to push himself both mentally and physically.
He coaches his sons’ baseball teams and hunts, fishes and enjoys photography. He has completed the 26.2-mile long Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands, N.M. He also took part in the 26-mile long Grand Canyon Rim to Rim event.
Supporters of Frank Wasson III participate in a flag raising ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 22, at his new home in West Salem. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)
An aerial view shows the new home in West Salem provided to Frank Wasson III and his family during a ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 22. (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)
CORRECTION: The number of bedrooms and square footage figures have been updated. Organizers corrected information provided to the Salem Reporter earlier.
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