Magic, Chase and Operation Homefront Team Up to Surprise Military Family with Mortgage-Free Home during Fan Appreciation Night
By John Denton
April 16, 2013
ORLANDO – During his 15 years serving in the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army, Staff Sergeant Jack Scott would often make the drive through tiny Paisley, Fla., dreaming about the day he could retire there and have a place to call home.
Located on the Southeastern tip of the Ocala National Forest, Paisley is surrounded by a national refuge and a state park, making it one of the true natural jewels of Central Florida.
And in the eyes of Scott, it was the polar opposite of the blinding sand storms in Iraq where he served in the searing heat of Southern Afghanistan as an assault vehicle operator charged with detonating and destroying improvised explosive devices (IEDs). If all went well and Scott made it out of Afghanistan alive, his dreams were to someday settle in Central Florida’s tiny town of 734 people and savor the peace and tranquility.
“I actually know the Paisley area so well because living (previously) in Daytona I would travel through Paisley so many times. I would always say to my wife, ‘You know, when I retire I would love to live here because it’s just so peaceful and quiet,’” Scott recounted on Monday night. “Just that area, 20 miles before and after Paisley, it’s just so beautiful. It’s one of my favorite areas of the state and a place that I’ve always wanted to retire to.”
Now, thanks to Operation Homefront and Chase, Scott – a man who has spent the last 32 years of his life serving his country and community – will be able to realize his dream and retire to Paisley in a newly renovated mortgage-free home, awarded by Operation Homefront and provided by Chase.
Jack, wife Lori and son Shane got the surprise of a lifetime on Monday when they were invited to attend the Orlando Magic-Chicago Bulls game at the Amway Center as the military family being honored during “Fan Appreciation Night.” To their surprise, they were escorted to midcourt early in the game and presented with a 50-inch television. Then, Magic CEO Alex Martins and representatives from Chase and Operation Homefront presented the Scott family with keys to a newly renovated, mortgage-free home. The moment was overwhelming enough to bring tears to the eyes of Lori Scott.
“I can’t even describe the emotions. It’s the kind of blessing for our family that I can’t even put into words,” said Lori, whose family got to sit courtside for Monday’s Magic-Bulls game. “I kept saying, ‘It’s a key! It’s a key!’ I think Jack saw it before I did, but we were both just amazed.”
“My reaction (to being awarded the house) was the same as my wife – we were just shocked,” Jack said. “I think something like this shows that the Magic and other sports teams put a lot into supporting the military. They always seem to give back to us. A lot of the sports teams have come over to (the Middle East) and toured over there and met with us to help boost morale. I think it’s great all that they do for us.”
Operation Homefront and Chase have partnered to provide mortgage-free homes to military and veteran families as part of the bank’s ongoing commitment to help military members transition civilian live. Chase, as a champion of the community, worked closely with the Magic to honor the Scott family and allow the Orlando Magic fans to thank Jack for his service and sacrifice.
Jack, 49, enlisted in the Marines Corps at 17 years old and was ultimately deployed to Iraq during Desert Storm. He retired from the Marines in 1991 and a year later he became a police officer in Ponce Inlet, Florida. It was there that he received several exemplary marks as a police officer, including an award presented by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MAAD) for his superior service in combating drunk driving.
But he still felt the tug of needing to serve his country, and just months after retiring from the Ponce Inlet Police Department, Scott reenlisted in the military – this time in the U.S. Army as a combat engineer. His job could not have been more nerve-wracking and dangerous as he was charged with finding and destroying IEDs in Southern Afghanistan. It was the most dangerous job in a war-like setting, and eventually Scott’s luck ran out just three months before he was scheduled to return to America.
“I was a combat engineer in charge of route clearance of IEDs. I was one of the ones who would neutralize the IEDs and blow them up” he said somewhat matter-of-factly. “I hit two IEDs. The first one was in the first few months was downrange and I was injured, but eventually I went back on duty.
“On the last one, I hit an anti-tank line, which blew my truck up and I off mission for awhile,” Jack continued. “I returned, but I was still having some issues.” Scott was eventually medically discharged because of combat injuries.
Throughout the course of his career, Jack spent 32 years serving both his country and community, leading him to joke, “I’ve never not worn a uniform.”
Wife, Lori, said there wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t worry about the safety of her husband while he was working a world away. “Since Jack’s job was to work with IEDs and explosives, I knew how dangerous it was and the day-to-day uncertainly was very stressful. In all our years together, I’ve never known Jack to not have a job where he might not come home,” she said. Regardless of the dangers of his job, Lori stressed that, “I support my husband in whatever he does.”
Now, back in Central Florida, Jack can’t wait to move into his new and enjoy the peace and tranquility of Paisley. After serving his country and community for many years, Jack deserves nothing less than to live out his dream.
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