After more than two decades serving his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, a Bay Area man stationed in Japan is finally home but when he got there, he could barely recognize it.
We took a walk through of a Suisun City home today. That would be a big surprise for a newly retired marine.
"He's a pretty emotional guy, so he's... I imagine there will be a lot of tears," Jeremy Epperson said.
The tears came quickly when Jack Bernardo arrived, because he didn't recognize his home.
After retiring from the Marine Corps last week, Bernardo and his family returned from Okinawa, Japan just this afternoon.
"21 years I gave serving our country, and if I had 21 more years to give, I would. Because I love this country." Bernard said.
The Bernardos bought the house in January, but it needed a lot of work. Daughter, Jessica had her doubts.
"At first I was like are you sure you guys want this house," she said.
Bernardo asked his friend, Jeremy Epperson to keep an eye on it until the family returned.
Epperson had different ideas.
"I didn't think it was right for a person who retired, given 21 years and 50% of their pay to come back and spend every cent that they saved on fixing up a home," Epperson said.
So in just ten days, Epperson, The Jimmy Doolittle Center, and numerous contractors and volunteers painted, installed new floors, redid the kitchen, and landscaped the property.
"It looks like the country gave back to you a little bit here. Yes. That's why I'm not expecting it, because I don't really think I deserve it," Bernardo said.
Suisun City's Mayor Pete Sanchez came to present a proclamation to Bernardo.
"June 17th, 2014 is Master Sgt. Jack Bernardo Day," said Sanchez.
Bernard says others were more deserving.
"Those guys that didn't make it in one piece, they deserve this, not me." he recalled.
Bernardo had saved up a lot of money to fix up the house, which he no longer has to do, and that's good news because next year, he'll have not just one but two daughters attending Sacramento State University.