Gonzales family

William Gonzales III (right) and his family stand in front of the mortgage-free home in Waxhaw they received from Operation FINALLY HOME and Lennar on Oct. 16.

WAXHAW — A Marine Corps veteran and his family received a mortgage-free home in Union County thanks to Operation FINALLY HOME and Lennar, according to a press release by Lennar.

William Gonzales III, who served in the U.S Marine Corps. with the rank of Staff Sergeant, and his family were surprised with the unfinished home on Oct. 16 in the Millbridge Community in Waxhaw. Active real estate listings in the area, according to Millbridge’s website, price homes in the neighborhood between $375,000 and $469,000.

Gonzales, his wife and three daughters — who currently live in Jacksonville, N.C. — initially thought their trip to Millbrook on Oct. 16 was to participate in an interview with Lennar as a finalist for the mortgage-free home. Instead, they were driven to their future homesite where they saw a sign welcoming them to their future home where a groundbreaking ceremony was held.

During the ceremony, members of Operation FINALLY HOME, Lennar and others from Union County joined together to write “words of support and encouragement” on the studs of the currently unfinished home.

“It brought our team great joy to be able to safely honor William and his family and leave notes of love and support in the framing of their new home.” said Rusty Carroll, Operation FINALLY HOME executive director, in the release.

Operation FINALLY HOME was started in 2005 “with a mission to provide homes and home modifications to America’s military heroes, first responders and widows of the fallen,” according to the press release.

Gonzales served 12 years in the Marine Corps, spending time in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Mediterranean Sea. While deployed in Afghanistan in 2011, Gonzales’ vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device, and the incident resulted in Gonzales suffering significant injuries, according to information provided about Gonzales in the release.

Shortly after the accident, Gonzales decided to leave the Marine Corps. after serving out his deployment and returning to the United Sates where he was honorably discharged in 2012, according to the release. He earned a Marine Good Conduct Medal, three Bronze Stars, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal and a Pistol Qualification Badge (Marksman) and other awards during his time in the Marine Corps.

The Gonzales family expressed excitement to move near Charlotte because of the area’s medical facilities and the Charlotte-area VA clinics.