Surprise home donation for American hero

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ST. LOUIS - For serving his country, a recently retired Army Staff Sargent was treated to the gift of a lifetime Friday. Marco Garcia was given the keys to a newly renovated, mortgage-free home in a Baden neighborhood.

Led in by the Honor Guard, Marco Garcia and his family received a hero's welcome when they arrived at their new home on Oriole, thanks to the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals in partnership with Bank of America. This mortgage-free home is a thank you for his service and a new start.

“Never expected this, I’m glad and thankful to everybody who helped with the house,” said Garcia.

As a combat medic, Garcia was deployed to Iraq twice and Afghanistan once. He treated and lost many close friends. Civilian reintegration has been tough dealing with injuries and PTSD.

“One thing is their humble. Didn’t feel they were deserving of anything,” said Anthony Smith, President of Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals.

This ceremony marked the 6,000th home Bank of America has donated since the program’s inception in 2012, including 2200 to military personnel and 200 homes in Missouri.

“It has a huge effect of the community, this neighborhood as we celebrate a true American hero, it’s incredible,” said Michael Lawrence, Market President of Bank of America St. Louis.

Garcia's wife and young children were amazed at how nice their home is.

“It’s still unbelievable, sublime. I just don’t feel like it's true,” said Garcia.

The Garcia's moved to St. Louis almost 3 years ago but now feel like they truly have a home. Garcia calls it the best thing that’s happened for his family.

“This probably the top. In regular civilian life, this would be number one,” said Garcia.

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