Captain Jae Barclay: “A lot of the guys I served with, they’re the real heroes”

Army Captain Jae Barclay deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 with the 10th Mountain Division. He knew he would be spending August 19 — his first wedding anniversary — away from his new wife, Sierra, but he could never have imagined the horror he would experience that day.IMG_3053

The Humvee that Jae was riding in hit an IED (improvised explosive device). He suffered burns, most of them third-degree, over 40% of his body (he told the AL.com news site that he recalls “being engulfed in flames and wondering if I’m going to make it or not”). Three of his fellow service members lost their lives in the explosion.

One week later, Sierra gave birth to their first child, Addison. Sierra’s doctors had induced labor so her daughter could be born — and so she could be by Jae’s side in the hospital as soon as possible.

Sierra feared the worst, but while Jae’s body may have been broken, his spirit was as strong as ever. When she got to his bedside, she found him joking and displaying the same positive spirit that initially helped her fall in love with him.

Semper Fi Fund case manager Meredith first met the Barclay family at the Bush Warrior Open golf tournament in Texas in September 2015IMG_0981He was encouraged to reach out to the Semper Fi Fund, and was thrilled when she was assigned to their case.

The Barclays have a lovely home in a suburb of Houston,” Meredith notes, “but unfortunately their backyard was pretty much unusable due to drainage problems. The good news, though, is that the Semper Fi Fund and America’s Fund teamed up with The Home Depot Foundation to provide the family with a pretty amazing home makeover.

In addition to fixing the drainage problems and installing a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the makeover went significantly further. The incredibly talented Team Depot “Captain” Nathan Matthews designed a gorgeous outdoor oasis for the family complete with new fencing and furniture, mist generators to keep cool in the Texas heat, a hot tub to help Jae deal with his joint pain, and a memorial garden dedicated to the men whose lives were lost that fateful day in Afghanistan.

Best of all: The whole thing was a total surprise for Jae (the work was done while he was away on business), with the big reveal captured by the TODAY show in a segment broadcast on February 9.

I’ve pinched myself a couple times thinking, maybe I’m asleep on the airplane right now,” Jae told TODAY. “It’s pretty special to have that memorial put in there. A lot of the guys I served with, they’re the real heroes.

 

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