UPDATED: Monday, July 1, 2013 - 7:38pm
IOLA, Tx (KYLE) — With his prosthetic legs on and a little bit of help from another wounded and well-known veteran, celebrity J.R. Martinez...
"You're a strong dude," said Martinez.
"It's a work in progress bro," replied Bernardo.
Sergeant Monte Bernardo walked into his new house in the King Oaks Community for the first time Saturday.
"Like it's never really sank in but every time I see more pictures and being here today, you know, that's my house and it just gets more real," said Bernardo.
It's been a journey a year in the making; last 4th of July, Sgt. Bernardo and his soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division were ambushed in two different directions.
Bernardo unknowingly sat on an IED (improvised explosive device). He lost both of his legs and his left hand in the explosion.
"I could worry about what happened yesterday or I can focus on tomorrow," Bernardo said with a smile on his face. "My legs aren't going to grow back so there's no reason to be negative about it."
Just four months into his recovery Sgt. Bernardo was given the surprise of a lifetime, a mortgage-free custom-built home.
Operation FINALLY Home spokesperson and wounded veteran himself, J.R. Martinez, says the house couldn't go to a more deserving person.
"It's great to know that a courageous man like that, you know, that has gone through so much but still he believes and he feels like there is a bigger way to serve and a bigger way to give back to vets and the community."
Saturday neighbors, veterans and community members wrote notes of love on the structural beams of Bernardo's house.
"May God bless this home," wrote Martinez.
A permanent thank you for Bernardo's service and sacrifice.
"All this support makes it worth it," said Bernardo. "People really do care."
This 4th of July, Independence Day, will have a much more significant meaning.
It's Bernardo's "alive day" as they call it and this year the fireworks are for him as he celebrates not only the one-year anniversary of his accident but his chance at a new beginning.