(KCEN) – He stood their quietly, humbled by the kind words and standing ovation from a crowd of people who didn't even know him. After a heartfelt speech and chronicle of 29-year-old Khanh Nguyen's time in Afghanistan, he was presented with the key to a mortgage free home.
On Thursday Fairway Independent Mortgage Company held a session in Killeen to teach local realtors how to better serve military families buying homes. As the day winded down, Fairway made the special presentation to the wounded warrior.
Fairway teamed up with non-profits The Boot Campaign and Military Warrior Support Foundation to give Khanh the two-story, four bedroom home in Houston … a small gift for his huge sacrifices.
"Oh it's amazing," Khanh said with a smile on his face. "I couldn't believe it."
Khanh's story is truly one of an American hero trying to live the American dream. Born in Vietnam, his father fought in the Vietnam War. When the U.S. pulled out, his father was captured by the enemy and held captive in a concentrating camp for five years.
After being freed, Khanh's father brought the family to the United States. It wasn't long after that Khanh's love for the country brought him to enlist. Just six months after Khanh officially became a U.S. citizen he was deployed to Afghanistan.
"During our time there we took an 85% casualty rate," Khanh's platoon leader Sean Parnell said. "Out of 38 of my guys, 32 were wounded. Some were wounded twice or three times."
Near the end of 2006, Khanh's squad was ambushed on all sides, and an intense four hour gun fight followed. "I got a call from a squad leader saying the last thing he remembers of Khanh is that he was lying face down in a puddle of his own blood," Parnell said. "He had been shot in the head."
Incredibly the bullet did not penetrate his helmet, and even after brain damage and a blood clot found in his brain, Khanh was not finished fighting alongside his brothers. The doctors tried to give him a medical discharge, but Khanh would not accept.
"He ended up coming back to combat about two or three months after being shot in the head," Parnell said. "He is a remarkable man."
Khanh finished his deployment, and came back to the U.S. in 2007. And on Thursday as he stood there a wounded warrior still fighting memory loss, migraines and problems with concentration he graciously accepted the key to his new home.
Khanh currently lives in Houston with his parents, and the new house is closer to the University of Houston where he is now attending college. "It makes you feel like you did something right," Khanh said. "You go over there for a reason and that's to protect the people here, and to do your job the best you can."
Khanh plans on moving into his home next week.