McALLEN — U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Veteran Miguel Simental and his family were met with cheers and applause from a crowd welcoming them as they arrived to the site of their future home.

Verturo Interests, a construction and development company, and H-E-B partnered with Operation FINALLY HOME to build a future mortgage-free home for Simental and his family. The surprise groundbreaking ceremony took place on Thursday morning with officials from organizations presenting the importance of celebrating and giving back to veterans. This the second home H-E-B has worked toward creating within the border region, and the city also waived building permits and other fees, according to a news release.

The veteran arrived with his wife Marlene, three daughters and his mother for what he thought was a preliminary interview process with Verturo Interests and Operation FINALLY HOME.

“Accepting help and small gestures has always been difficult for me… this is an unbelievable feeling,” Simental said with his family standing by him. “I foresee the good things that will come from this, and I’m excited to share the great moments that my family and I will make in this future home.”

“There is a community standing with you,” Verturo Interests president Joey Holand said in a speech addressing the Marine.

Holand said he had a grandfather who served during World War II. The process up until the ceremony started in 2017, along with building funds for the future home. The company has worked to obtain donations for the construction of a new home.

“And if it weren’t for a lot of people, it wouldn’t have happened,” Holand said.

Simental is a Purple Heart recipient who was wounded during his service in Iraq, according to the news release. His left leg was amputated following the severity of his injuries sustained by an Improvised Explosive Device. H-E-B has supported efforts across the state for military veterans and their families.

The audience waved American flags and held signs with “Semper Fi” and “Oorah,” mottos and words associated with the Marines. Others held the scarlet red flag with the Eagle, Globe and Anchor in the center, the official emblem of the Marine Corps. A firetruck hoisted an American Flag overhead in the street and a cannon fired confetti sporting patriotic colors of red, white and blue.

Veterans, city officials and community members made up the crowd.

Speakers showed gratitude toward veterans as “brave warriors,” in keeping the United States a “free country.”

Veteran Frank Cavazos served in the Texas National Guard and his time in the military motivated him to attend the ceremony.

“I hope it keeps on going, it doesn’t stop, he deserves more than this, he deserves a lot more,” he added. “He gave up part of his body and time for us.”

McAllen Mayor Jim Darling said the gesture represents the community’s generosity and willingness to help. The mayor is also a veteran who served in Vietnam.

Darling said he hopes Simental will see his new home as “a symbol of the community’s care and respect for you (him) and your (for his) service to our country.”