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      Retiring 21-year military vet returns home to the surprise of a lifetime

      A retiring U.S. Marine got the surprise of a lifetime when he returned to his California home last week.

      Master Sergeant Jacinto Bernardo, an Iraq war veteran who recently retired after serving 21 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, asked his old Marine buddy Jeremy Epperson to watch his new home in Suisun, California, while he was stationed in Japan with his family.

      The home needed some major work, but was the only one the family could afford.

      Epperson agreed to watch his Marine brothers home, though he had much bigger plans in mind.

      While Bernardo was away, Epperson raised money and support to do roughly $70,000 in renovations to his house.

      Epperson called the renovation program â??Homecoming Heroes.â??

      When Bernardo and his family finally made it home last week, a limo was waiting for them at the airport, which took them to their new home. They arrived to find that their home is no longer a fixer-upper.

      Epperson said no retiring U.S. Marine should have to return to a home that is such a mess.

      Bernardo teared up while talking to a local news station about the astonishing surprise.

      â??We are proud of our service,â?? the Marine said. â??Those guys that didnâ??t make it back and those guys that didnâ??t make it in one piece; they deserve this, not me.â??