WENDELL, N.C. (WNCN) – The family of a Fort Bragg paratrooper who was killed in action received the gift of a lifetime when they became the 22nd family to receive a home free of charge from “Operation: Coming Home.”
“It’s like a dream,” said Legna Barreto. “It’s a dream come true. I still can’t believe it.”
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis Barreto Ortiz, who was known as Barreto, dreamed of providing his wife and kids a home they could grow old in.
“He was someone with a big heart,” said Legna Barreto. “He loved to be a dad.”
On Sept 5, 2019, Barreto, 34, was killed by a Taliban suicide bomb in Afghanistan.
His death prompted President Donald Trump to end peace talks with the Taliban.
His wife said life without him has been a struggle.
“I have two boys,” said Legna Barreto. “That’s the hard part when you have to explain to your kids. It’s a day-by-day thing.”
Despite their loss, she said the Barretos were never alone thanks to their military family.
“We felt cared for,” said Legna Barreto. “His sacrifice is not forgotten.”
Thanks to Barreto’s brothers and sisters in arms, his family was able to fulfill his dream on Veterans Day when they received the keys to their new Wendell Falls home.
“It’s a fresh start for us,” said Legna Barreto. “I’m looking forward to seeing my boys grow up and be happy. That’s all I want from them.”
Though her husband isn’t here to share in the day physically, Legna Barreto said she can already feel his spirit in their new home.
“We are so proud of him,” said Legna Barreto. “We miss him, and we are trying to make him very proud.”
Surrounded by 21 other “Operation: Coming Home” families, the Barreto family will never be alone again.