A groundbreaking ceremony Thursday in Lantana officially marked the start of work on a specially adapted home for severely wounded veteran, SSgt. (Ret.) Johnnie Yellock II, USAF.
Officials from Denton County and area communities gathered to mark the start of the four-bedroom wheelchair-accessible home on Verbena Lane in the Bandera neighborhood through HelpingaHero.org.
The home will be built by Highland Homes with four bedrooms, three adapted bathrooms, an office, extended patio and other accessible features.
HelpingaHero.org is building four homes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has previously partnered on homes for five wounded warriors. In addition to the Lantana home, two homes will be built in Fort Worth and one in Collin County.
The Houston-based non-profit provides support for military personnel who have been severely injured in the war on terror, according to a news release. The specially-adapted homes are provided to qualifying service members with the help of local community services and resources.
At least 100 severely wounded heroes from 22 states have been awarded a custom home adapted for the needs through the 501(c)(3) program.
Yellock comes from a dual Veteran family and was raised in Texas. In 2002, he graduated from Keller High School before receiving his degree in Manufacturing Engineering from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX in 2006.
He enlisted as a Combat Controller in the Air Force on April 17, 2007 and he completed the Combat Control pipeline, in June 2009. He was a trained static line and free fall jumper, and a U.S. Army qualified combat scuba diver. He was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron (STS) Hurlburt Field, FL.
Yellock served his first deployment as an STS Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) in support of Combat Search and Rescue Afghanistan.
Two of his best friends, SrA Mark Forester and SrA Danny Sanchez, were killed in action thirteen days from each other shortly before Johnnie returned home.
Yellock then deployed in June 2011 as a JTAC in support of USSOCOM Special Forces tasked with Village Stability Operations.
On July 6, an Improvised Explosive Device disabled Yellock’s vehicle and caused life-threatening injuries to both of his legs. Johnnie applied tourniquets to his own legs and continued to assist his team by providing Helicopter landing zone guidance to MEDEVAC himself and his interpreter to a nearby Forward Operating Base.
Yellock spent the next three years rehabilitating at BAMC in San Antonio where he has undergone 30 surgeries to date.
He received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Action Medal for his actions that day.
Yellock medically retired from active duty on November 27, 2013, and became the Veteran Liaison for Helping a Hero. He champions the Mark Forester Foundation (www.MarkAForester.com) to honor of his best friend who was killed in action in Afghanistan.