Three months after his latest visit home to Marietta, U.S. Army Specialist Kyle Hockenberry has made some amazing progress, and is looking forward to moving into his "smart" home sometime next year, according to his dad, Chet Hockenberry of Reno.
"He's doing real good-currently driving his own personal truck, and he's living in the barracks," Chet said Sunday.
In June 2011, Kyle was on patrol with his unit in Afghanistan when he lost most of both legs and his left arm to an improvised explosive device.
For more than a year now he's been undergoing rehabilitation at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, Texas. And the rehab efforts are apparently paying off.
"He bought a new Chevy Silverado with a 2500 diesel engine that's been modified to fit his needs," Chet said. "He's also back in the barracks where it's more Army-like and he has his own room and living area."
As Kyle continues to make steady progress in San Antonio, plans are also moving ahead to build a log-style "smart" home on property in the Reno area with technology that will help him live more independently.
About Spc. Kyle Hockenberry's "smart" home:
70 percent of the estimated $375,000 has been raised to build the high-tech home for U.S. Army Specialist Kyle Hockenberry.
The home is in the design phase, and property on which the project is to be constructed is currently being acquired.
To contribute to Hockenberry's "smart" home, go to www.buildingforamericasbravest.org
Source: Building for America's Bravest Web site
The Tunnel to Towers Foundation is also asking for donations of building materials to help in the home's construction. If interested in donating, contact Chris Cuban at 314-603-2866.
According to the Building for America's Bravest Web site, funding contributed for Kyle's "smart" home, originally estimated to cost around $375,000, stands at the 70 percent mark, and the home is currently in the design phase.
Building for America's Bravest is a joint effort of the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation. Both organizations have partnered to help raise funding to build "smart" homes for 16 U.S. soldiers injured while serving their country.
Each home is custom-designed to meet the needs of the soldier for which it is built.
A Marietta concert by Sinise's Lt. Dan Band in August raised more than $200,000 for Kyle's home.
Also in August, Bill Hutchinson, business manager for the Parkersburg/Marietta Building Trades Association, announced that association members from numerous trades will assist in building Kyle's home.
And Barbara Titus, vice president of Sheoga Hardwood Floors in Middlefield, Ohio, announced that the company will donate all the solid hardwood flooring in the "smart" home.
Chet said construction on the home should begin shortly after the final property transfer is completed on the building site.
"They were hoping to have the home ready to give to Kyle by Memorial Day, but some of the foundation offices were hit by Hurricane Sandy, so that set them back," he said. "But they're also trying to help their neighbors in New York with recovery efforts."
Meanwhile, contributions for Kyle's "smart" home continue to come in locally from both individuals and organizations. And people can still donate online at www.buildingforamericasbravest.org to help purchase items for the home.
Kyle is expected to return home for good early next year.
"It's down to a matter of months now," Chet said. "Hopefully he'll be returning sometime in the spring. That's a good thing. He's ready to be home. And everyone is anxious to get things going."
But Kyle will make at least one more visit here before spring.
"He's going to be here for Christmas-to spend a few days at home this year," Chet said.