Marine Sgt. Ryan Dinkel and fiancé Melanie Nordhaus see their new home for the first time Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. The house was donated to Dinkel by Wells Fargo and Operation Homefront.
The "Old Glory" flag stood tall and proud outside a newly remodeled Salida home to welcome a hero.
Marine Sgt. Ryan Dinkel walked into the home of his dreams Wednesday. The 1,564 sq. ft. house is almost three times the size of his current apartment in Lodi.
"It's actually overwhelming," Dinkel said. "I didn't think it was going to look like this on the inside."
The home is mortgage-free and was donated to Dinkel by Wells Fargo and Operation Homefront, a non-profit that provides financial assistance to wounded service members.
"It's not a cost-free home, they do pay property taxes, their maintenance plans or Home Owners Association if they do have one and then a closing cost," Operation Homefront spokesperson Megan Bennett said.
But it's more than Dinkel could have ever hoped for. The Valley native was in the Marines for 8 years, serving two tours of duty in Iraq.
"Being in the service for so long, that brotherhood, it's just you see guys getting out and they're hurting," Dinkel said.
While his wounds aren't visible, the 6'7'' tall veteran continues to struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
"I felt lost when I got out," Dinkel said. "No one understood or could relate."
With time, he's managed to turn his life around by helping those like him. He's studying to become a counselor to help war veterans suffering from PTSD.
And that makes him a deserving hero in the eyes of many.
"I'm really excited and proud of him and everything he's done," Dinkel's fiancé Melanie Nordhaus said.
Dinkel will be sharing his new home with Nordhaus. They can now officially begin moving into their new home.
By Carlos Saucedo, email@example.com