By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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Veterans, government officials and residents watched as the keys to the free four-bedroom, two-bath home east of Port Angeles — built with special accommodations for Lang's war injuries — were given to the veteran; his wife, Kiri; and their two young sons.
“I've had nine months to dread this day, where I have to stand in front of a bunch of people I don't necessarily know, but I'd like to get to know you all,” said Ammon Lang, 27, getting some chuckles from the crowd.
“I don't have the words to describe how this feels, the gratitude I have for all of you.”
The family was ready to move in, having driven their belongings from their previous home in Kansas in a U-Haul truck.
Lang stepped on an improvised explosive device June 11, 2011, while serving in Sangin, Afghanistan.
The blast destroyed his left leg up to just above the knee and forced the amputation of his right leg just below the knee.
Massachusetts-based Homes for Our Troops organized the 2,700-square-foot home's construction starting April 27 and gave it to the Langs free of cost and mortgage.
American Legion and Patriot Guard riders flanked either side of the Langs' asphalt driveway at 72 Hidden Highlands Drive, off O'Brien Road, on Saturday as the family drove past American flags tilted in their honor.
The home, built almost entirely with volunteer labor and materials, includes 155 special features, such as countertops high enough for a wheelchair to roll under, adapted to Ammon Lang's needs.
“People came from all walks of life and all different businesses,” said Garret DelaBarre, president of the North Peninsula Building Association.
“We'd just like to welcome you to our town and look forward to seeing you at Swain's [General Store].”
The association led fundraising efforts with Homes for Our Troops and got Sequim-based Hines Construction involved as the volunteer lead contractor.
“Whether [the] contribution was significant or otherwise, the community really came together,” Hines Construction owner Jerry Hines said.
“We're really pleased to make this home a reality for [the Langs].”
A raffle begun by Everwarm Hearth & Home in May for The Big Green egg cooker donated by the firm netted $2,000 cash to be given to the Langs, said Colette Roberts, customer service representative.
Everwarm also donated $1,400 to Homes for Our Troops for construction of the house, Roberts said.
Why did the Langs choose to relocate to the Peninsula?
“Port Angeles has pretty much everything we like,” Ammon Lang said, referring to the nearby mountains and salt water.
“It was a good weather type for him,” said his wife, 25.
Ammon enjoys hunting and fishing, Kiri Lang added, and hopes to do more once settled in their new home.
Their oldest son, Alexander, is turning 5 in March and likely will start kindergarten in the fall in Port Angeles, she said.
Alexander's brother, Killian, is 3. Both will soon have a sibling, due in a few months.
Lang said he plans to start a “maker's space” business focusing on woodworking, in which people can work on individual projects in a cooperative atmosphere, and is looking for commercial space in Port Angeles and Sequim.
Throughout the tour of the home after the ceremony, neighbors of the Langs introduced themselves and offered to help in any way they could.
“Neighbors have really come out of the woodwork,” Ammon Lang said. “It's been really nice.”
Two specifically told him of a local woodworking club and how he could join.
“There had to be woodworkers around here,” Ammon told them. “There's too many trees for there not to be.”
Ammon Lang said his family has a list of places on the Peninsula they'd like to see.
These include the rain forests of Olympic National Park and the Forks area, Lang said, since his wife is a fan of the Twilight books and movie series.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.