Military veteran Adam Lee was in for the surprise of a lifetime when he stepped onto Pat Dye Field during Auburn’s Oct. 7 home game against Ole Miss.
Initially thinking he was simply being recognized for his service in the Army, Lee was pleasantly surprised when he and his family were presented with a rendering of a mortgage-free home, soon to be built for them right here in Auburn.
Enlisting in the National Guard in 1996, Lee served as military police until 2002. Lee then had a small break in service, eventually going back into active service in 2006 where he was stationed at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, Washington.
Lee was then deployed to Afghanistan for the first time, where he spent 15 months. After that tour, Lee and his family moved to Fort Rucker, Alabama where Lee, in 2010, went to canine school, where he was paired with Baco, a German Shorthaired
Lee once again returned to Afghanistan later that year but was unable to stay long as a rough landing on a helicopter aggravated a previous lower back injury for the Gordo, Alabama native.
After a back surgery in 2011, the Army medically retired Lee in 2012.
The Lee family’s new home is being constructed by Dilworth Development in the Rosemary Gate community as a part of Operation Finally Home, a non-profit organization “dedicated to building homes for wounded, ill or injured veterans, surviving spouses and their families”
Lee had applied for the house last summer and thought his trip to the Ole Miss game was simply for Military Appreciation Day. However, an enormous surprise was in store for Lee and his family.
“It was just a whirlwind of emotion, it was a relief, astonishment, it was blessing to know that my family was going to be taken care of with no worries,” Lee said regarding his initial reaction to the news.
Lee said the Auburn community has welcomed him and his family with welcome arms.
“Everyone has been amazing, after the game, there were a ton of people congratulating us outside the stadium, even today I’m getting people that recognize me, congratulate us and thank me for my service,” Lee said.
Lee credits Southern hospitality for the warm welcome that he and his family have felt but says that the city of Auburn takes it to a new level.
“There’s something about the people in Auburn compared to other places we’ve been,” Lee said. Lee also adds that the “family feel” that surrounds Auburn is a big part that separates it from other cities.
Lee and his family currently reside in Huntsville while they wait for their new home to be built.
The building process will begin soon with a groundbreaking ceremony but prior to that, a “notes of love” event will be held where members of the community will be able to write messages to Lee and his family that will be placed in the walls of the house.