LEWES, Del. - U.S. Army Sergeant Shaun O'Brien attended the Concert in the Park in Lewes Thursday evening thinking he and his wife, Jesyka, were going through a preliminary interview process with Operation FINALLY HOME and the Lewes Building Company.
Instead, they were surprised in front of hundreds of onlookers that they had become homeowners.
"Speechless honestly, shocked, humbled," said Jesyka O'Brien.
"Yea, this is unbelievable, it doesn't even seem real," said Shaun.
After enlisting as a combat medic, O'Brien was deployed to Afghanistan for two years, serving on a sweep team. His team was hit by a high-explosive anti-tank rocket, landing only 25 feet away.
"I had two of my other medics - friends with me, buddies with me. We were able to help everybody that needed help, and to be honest, I would do it all over again without even question."
After tending to the wounds of others, he realized he, too, was wounded. His injuries included traumatic brain injury, herniated discs, and compressed nerves in his spine, leading to three back surgeries.
For his service, O'Brien received the purple heart.
"To be honest, it's a complete honor to be able to serve this country. And we have a family history on both sides of our family to be be able to serve, and it's something I always wanted to do."
Despite these obstacles, O'Brien enrolled in a vocational rehabilitation program and plans to return to college to pursue a bachelor's degree in industrial design.
"One day at a time, one day at a time. It's something that, unfortunately, is never going to be fixed it's just a matter of putting another band-aid over it and getting a little bit more time."
The O'Brien's will be moving into their custom-built, mortgage-free home in Lewes by 2018. A special groundbreaking ceremony at the site, located at lot 47 in the Community of Red Fox Run will take place at 10 a.m. Friday morning.