Tampa area soldier gets surprise new home

Riverview, Florida --- On Friday morning Staff Sgt. Mario Pinilla thought he was coming to Magnolia Park in Riverview for a final-round interview to get a home... but instead it's where he got the welcome of a lifetime.

Even with two Purple Hearts, Silver and Bronze Stars, Pinilla can still be surprised.

"Caught by surprise!" Pinilla said.

It's a gift from PulteGroup home builders, who founded "Built to Honor" to give deserving veterans mortgage-free homes.

"It's been a while since I've been able to have that feeling, just being able to cry from happiness, you know," he said. "Definitely a blessing."

Pinilla is still recovering from gunshot wounds he received on his latest tour with Army Special Forces in Afghanistan. His new home will only be about 25 minutes from Tampa's VA Hospital where he's receiving treatment.

"Many birthdays and Christmas and anniversaries away from home and this is a way to notice that people actually do care, that people actually do appreciate the sacrifices service members do on a daily basis," Pinilla said.

A veteran who's given so much, is receiving the start of a new life in return.

PulteGroup is officially breaking ground for Pinilla's Riverview home Monday, and in just a few months the dirt will be transformed into Mario's new mortgage-free home.


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