OAKLAND — For the seventh consecutive time, the Home at Last project will feature a house built in Oakland for a battle-affected member of the American armed forces and his family.
This year, that family is U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Brandon Wittwer; his wife, Kassandra; and their children, Kaydance, Karter and Kylee. The Christian Life Center hosted the Wittwers for a welcome reception at 3 p.m. April 26 at Oakland Presbyterian Church.
“I am truly humbled to have this opportunity for my family and me,” Wittwer said. “It means for the first time in a long time, we’re going to be able to call somewhere home and know that that’s going to be true for an extended period of time. I’d like to say thank you to everybody for showing us your grace and your love.”
Wittwer said he was eager to know the other Home at Last families better and develop relationships and share stories with them.
“I’m just honored to be the one that was selected, not so much for me but for my family, for my kids to have a place where they can grow up and my wife and I can watch them grow up,” he said. “That’s really the only dream and goal that I’ve had as a father. Thank you all for that.”
Retired Army Col. DeLloyd Voorhees Jr. was the master of ceremonies for the event, and he recognized integral members of the project team, from architect Jack Scott and construction leaders to project chairman Bill Criswell.
The guest speaker was Lt. Col. William Yates, soon to be a Marine colonel.
“It’s a tremendous privilege to be here for this celebration,” Yates said. “I consider myself now for the second time a Florida resident, both times courtesy of orders here to the Greater Orlando area, and this is a very special community, a place that I really look forward to coming back to, and Staff Sgt. Wittwer, I know that you will really enjoy this community and the fellowship here in the veterans’ associated organizations.”
The type of gratitude shown in Home at Last is an apotheosis of how the country recognizes and appreciates its troops, Yates said, something that Wittwer and his family have earned.
“Staff Sgt. Wittwer is a Marine that continues to serve by his example and by raising up a wonderful family that will understand what it means to be a citizen of this nation, and that freedom has a price,” Yates said. “While all veterans serve, some give more than others, not by choice, but by the circumstances. Especially for the combat-wounded and those who return to civilian life with aches and pains and memories that are difficult to live with, we owe a special debt of gratitude.”
Sgt. I.W. Hatcher Jr., Detachment 1120 of the Marine Corps League, presented colors before Timothy Corcoran, son of previous Home at Last recipient Sgt. Major Patrick Corcoran, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Wendy Proctor performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Proud to Be an American.”
Several other past recipients were also on hand to welcome the Wittwer family to Oakland and West Orange, as well as politicians, including Orange County District 1 Commissioner Scott Boyd, District 8 U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn and Oakland Mayor Kathy Stark.