Honoring a hero with a home of his own

Feb 11 2012 - 11:46pm

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NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner 
Volunteers help build a home for military veteran Isaac Jensen on Friday in West Point.
NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner 
Dr. Hans Jenkins (left) and Jensen talk as volunteers work on the house for the Jensen family.
NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner 
Dr. Hans Jenkins (left) and Jensen talk as volunteers work on the house for the Jensen family.
NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner 
Volunteers help build a home for military veteran Isaac Jensen on Friday in West Point.
NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner 
Dr. Hans Jenkins (left) and Jensen talk as volunteers work on the house for the Jensen family.
NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner 
Dr. Hans Jenkins (left) and Jensen talk as volunteers work on the house for the Jensen family.

WEST POINT -- There was only one thought going through Army Cpl. Isaac Jensen's mind as he laid in a hospital bed in Iraq.

He did not think about the explosion from the two 100-pound bombs that nearly killed him and the two soldiers he was with at the time. Nor was he focusing on his injured legs, that were sewn together, or his left arm, which was sewn to his body.

Instead, Jensen was thinking of his wife and son.

"All I was thinking was, what am I going to do and how will I provide for my family?" said Jensen, 26. "How would I get them a home?"

The latter question was answered Friday when hundreds of volunteers teamed with Homes For Our Troops and Rainey Homes to build the Jensen family a home. Jensen, his wife, Bethany, and their 4-year-old son, James, currently live in Layton. The three helped builders put the first wall of their new home into place.

But this is not the typical home. The house being constructed on the corner of 4700 West and 1650 North will be tailored to meet Jensen's needs.

Jensen lost both legs from the explosion and had irreversible, severe nerve damage to his left arm. Now he faces challenges in his everyday life, like fitting his wheelchair through doors and getting up stairs, that most people never encounter.

"The world is not built for the situation he's in right now," said Justin Taylor, vice president of construction for Rainey Homes. "But this home will be."

Taylor had his kids skip school on Friday so they could meet someone he called a real hero.

On Nov. 9, 2008, Jensen and two other soldiers were investigating a house near Malalah, Iraq. One of the soldiers opened the refrigerator and the bombs inside exploded. Jensen was blasted into the ceiling and then slammed to the floor. While laying there, Jensen, an army medic, used his one working hand to apply a tourniquet to another injured solider lying close to him.

Jensen then tried to stand up to go find the second soldier.

That was when he noticed his legs were mangled and unusable.

But Jensen still managed to crawl across the floor on his stomach to reach the other soldier.

He again applied a tourniquet before turning his attention to his own wounds.

Still with just one hand, Jensen applied three tourniquets to himself before help arrived and the injured soldiers were rescued and taken to receive medical treatment.

Homes For Our Troops, which approached Jensen with the offer of building the house, has constructed 106 homes. The organization is responsible for one other home in Utah, for Spc. Bryant Jacobs in Herriman.

Jensen said he picked West Point to be his family's new home because they have several family members nearby.

"It's an honor to have a hero who was wounded become part of our community," said Mayor Erik Craythorne.

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