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“I’m really, really shocked!” Matthews soldier surprised by brand new car

US Army Staff Sergeant Paul Larson has been deployed five times. He's home recovering from a knee injury and will use the new car to go back and forth to Ft. Bragg.

MATTHEWS, N.C. — When Staff Sergeant Paul Larson of the US Army heard the doorbell ring early Monday morning he wondered why a door-to-door salesman would be out so early.  Reluctantly he opened the door and quickly learned he won a brand new car as part of NBC Charlotte’s Hometown Hero.

“Hi I’m NBC Charlotte’s Sarah French,” she said as she shook Paul Larson’s hand.  “We’ve been taking nominations for Hometown Hero and you are our winner!”

Paul Larson has been in the US Army 16 years and has been deployed five times.

“I’ve been to Iraq, to Afghanistan.  I’ve been to Africa.  I’ve been to Egypt and I just got back from Syria/Kuwait,” he said.

It has provided him with a great opportunities to travel, but it’s also a sacrifice for his family.  He misses out on a lot of firsts with his wife and son.

“All those things I’ve missed, I can’t get back,” Paul Larson said.

His most recent deployment was in Syria where there he didn’t have access to Skype or Internet to keep in touch with his wife and son.

“He just turned 9 last year.  This (deployment) has been the hardest one for him and the hardest one for me because as he’s going to school and all that.  It’s hard to miss everything,” Paul Larson said.

As a platoon sergeant, Paul Larson needs to be active.  But he’s injured his knee four times and is at home in Matthews preparing for his fourth surgery.

He’s traveling from Matthews to Fort Bragg for treatment.  Now he’s able to get back and forth in a brand new Hyundai Sante Fe.

RELATED: He saved a fellow firefighter trapped in a burning building. For his heroic efforts, he won a new car.

“It’s a blessing,” his wife Julie Larson said.  “It gets him safely back and forth.  It makes him feel proud and honored, which he doesn’t always get.”

Julie Larson said they needed to buy a new car, but during his deployment repairs needed done on the home and they just couldn’t afford a new car.

“We needed to fix the house the way we needed to, but it stunk,” she said.

Not being able to get a new car was disappointing to the whole family.  It was a shock to Paul Larson that he was recognized for his service and received a brand new car.

RELATED: Nominate a teacher for hometown hero now

“I’m really, really shocked,” he said.  “I’ve never had anything new, especially a car!”

And it really means a lot to son Landon Larson, who got tears in his eyes talking about what it means to the family.

“I’m just so proud of him for doing what he does,” he said.  “Just proud someone is recognizing it and rewarding him.”

Paul Larson now has a reliable car to get to and from Fort Bragg to get the medical treatment he needs to fully recover.


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