SUISUN CITY — The family of Jacinto Bernardo told the master sergeant in the United States Marine Corps a surprise awaited him Tuesday at their new home.
What he saw in Suisun City brought tears to the eyes of the 40-year-old Bernardo.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I have better bearing than this.”
“I wasn’t expecting this at all,” Bernardo said. “I’m just soaking it in right now.”
The Jimmy Doolittle Center in Fairfield; Jeremy Epperson, who served with Bernardo in the Marines; and several sponsors had the house repainted along with new landscaping and new floors added at the Alcazar Court home.
“It’s perfect,” Bernardo said. “Perfect.”
The $70,000 in labor and materials included trimming a palm tree and adding a lawn in the backyard that had been a mix of waist-high weeds and dead grass.
Bernardo’s wife Julie said the Suisun City house was one the family could afford in the Bay Area after living in Okinawa, Japan.
Jacinto Bernardo stood in front of a half-dozen TV news cameras and spoke about other Marines.
“Those guys who didn’t make it back and those who didn’t make it in one piece,” he said, “They deserve this and not me.”
Bernardo, a Marine combat veteran who served in Iraq, said he is humbled by the improvements to the family’s new home.
Brian McInerney, CEO of the Doolittle Center, said the house was a prime candidate for renovation.
“It was tired,” McInerney said of the site.
Major donors were Jelly Belly, Dallas Automotive, Signature Flight Support – where Epperson works – Everest Fuel and Sonoma Jet Center.
Ken Howe, who works for Jelly Belly owner Herm Rowland, said the landscaping crew was able to complete the work in a week. Louis Latini, foreman for Valley Professional Painting in Vacaville, said the exterior work took 2 1/2 days.
“It was a great honor to give back to those who’ve given so much to us,” Latini said.
Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez presented Bernardo with a proclamation noting the new resident served with honor and distinction in the Marines, declaring Tuesday “Master Sergeant Jack Bernardo Day” and welcoming him to the city. Sgt. Michael Obado, a Marine recruiter in Fairfield, came to the Alcazar Court home to welcome Bernardo as well.
Bernardo’s last official day in the Marine Corps is Aug. 31. He’ll start work with Comcast as a construction specialist.
Across the street, Tito Carranza, 48, whose stepson serves in the Marines, thanked Bernardo and all veterans for their service.
“That’s a very cool thing,” Carranza said of the improvements to the house.
Bernardo stood in his new home Tuesday, spoke about how he and his family aren’t going to be moving anymore and marveled about all the work done to the house.
“Things like this,” he said, “I see on TV.”
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or [email protected]