GRESHAM, Ore. -- A Gresham veteran who lost both of his legs fighting in Iraq is getting a very special gift in return for his service.
Thanks to the national non-profit, Homes For Our Troops, Kevin Pannell, 31, will receive a new handicapped-accessible home in Sandy this summer.
On June 13, 2004, Pannell was on a mission in Baghdad when at least one grenade exploded at his feet. His legs and arm were mangled
"I was literally pouring blood on the ground," Pannell said. "I even said my goodbyes."
Death was at his doorstep when doctors delivered the news. They amputated both of his legs.
"I closed my eyes for a second and opened them back up and said, 'well I guess I can live with that' because I really thought I was dying," he said.
After 16 months at Walter Reed, Pannell returned to Gresham a new man, both physically and mentally.
"I'm a much happier person now," he said. "I'm genuinely happy I got hurt because it just changes your whole outlook on life."
Pannell began work at the non-profit, Oregon Active Foundation, which provides memorable adventures to at-risk kids, and adults battling cancer and disabilities. But at home, Pannell fought his own battle -- his house was not handicapped accessible.
"There are a lot of places in this house that I have to crawl through," he said. "I climb to the cabinets."
Now, a national organization called Homes For Our Troops is stepping in. They're building Pannell a new handicapped accessible house in Sandy. Pannell won't have to pay a penny.
"I hope they realize how giant it is doing something like that," he said.
As Pannell looks forward to his new life, he reflects on his past. A few weeks ago he returned to Baghdad, boarded Black Hawk Helicopters with fellow wounded vets and returned to the same spot where he lost his legs.
"It was just kinda good to see the old neighborhood," said Pannell.
He said seeing the area's improvements gave him closure, proof that his sacrifice made a difference.