Army Staff Sgt. Oskar Zepeda came home from nine tours of duty to a mortgage free house.
It's the kind of reception every military hero deserves, especially one coming home for the first time.
Zepeda served three tours in Iraq and six in Afghanistan. On Friday, he was back with his wife and two kids in Perris, seeing the house they've always dreamed of owning.
U.S. & World
"It just feels like it's not real," Oskar Zepeda said "It hasn't hit me yet that, 'hey, this is my home.'"
Zepeda is being rewarded with the brand-new, $340,000 home because he is a decorated Army Ranger who received the Purple Heart for a battle with the Taliban that nearly took his life.
The gift comes from Pulte Group's Built to Honor program, in association with the organization Operation Finally Home, a nonprofit that builds homes for U.S. veterans.
For a long time, Zepeda's family has been living with his in-laws in the San Fernando Valley.
It's been a tight squeeze — and a tough time watching Zepeda endure more than 30 surgeries over the past five years.
"Nobody sees what I go through, what our kids go through," said his wife, Lisa Zepeda. "It's definitely not an easy thing to deal with something like that."
But now, they have a fully-furnished home, complete with an outdoor fireplace and backyard with plenty of room for the kids to play.
"It's probably one of the biggest rewards in life," Oskar Zepeda said.
His 8-year-old daughter, Sophia Zepeda, now has her own room. Her new home fills her with so much emotion that she can barely describe it.
"I feel really thankful and really blessed inside this house," Sophia said.