Steps2Hope turns over new home to Spc. Andrew Smith and wife, Tori

Steps2Hope turns over new home to Spc. Andrew Smith and wife, Tori

July 4th, 2013 by Kevin Hardy in Local - Breaking News

U.S. Army Spc. Andrew Smith, right, and his wife Tori pray before entering their new home.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

Hundreds came out Thursday to celebrate the completion of a whirlwind home build for U.S. Army Spc. Andrew Smith, who was badly wounded while serving in Afghanistan last year.

After his unit came under fire, Smith stepped on an improvised explosive device, which blew off both his legs below the knee.

Since then, the community has rallied around Andrew and his wife, Tori. Local businessman and Smith family friend Mark Wilson visited the soldier and his wife at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington, D.C., to ask if he could work toward building a home for the veteran for when he returns to Chattanooga.

Businesses and individuals donated time, labor and materials to the fast-paced build. Wilson said more than 1,100 people volunteered throughout the weeklong build.

After arriving in a stretch SUV limo, the Smiths finally got to tour their new 3,000-square-foot home Thursday afternoon. They hadn't been allowed to see the house for the last several days of the build.

"We knew it would be amazing and incredible with the people involved," Andrew Smith said. "But we didn't think it would be anything like this."

Read more in tomorrow's Times Free Press.