Hixson family selected to receive mortgage-free home in Conway

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Cory Hixson and his family join representatives from Operation FINALLY HOME, Bret Franks Construction and Southern Living on stage for a symbolic key presentation following the surprise: Sid Evans (from left), Southern Living; Deirdre Finnegan, Southern Living; Bret Franks, Bret Franks Construction; U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Cory Hixson; Shala Hixson; Rusty Carroll, Operation FINALLY HOME; and Beth Franks, Bret Franks Construction. (Photo Courtesy of Southern Living)

Operation FINALLY HOME, Bret Franks Construction and Southern Living surprised U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Cory Hixson and his family with the news they’ll be receiving a custom-built, mortgage-free home in Conway. The surprise took place during the Southern Living Home Summit Feb. 11. 

The family was told they would simply be interviewing with the builder, Bret Franks Construction, during the summit in South Carolina, as a preliminary step in the selection process. At the General Session on the first day of the summit, the entire family was called on stage and surprised with news they’ve been selected to receive a new, custom-built, mortgage-free home from Operation FINALLY HOME! 

Operation FINALLY HOME Executive Director Rusty Carroll, Bret and Beth Franks, with Bret Franks Construction, and Sid Evans and Deirdre Finnegan from Southern Living presented the Hixsons with a symbolic key on stage following the announcement. 

“LCpl Hixson bravely and selflessly served his country for over three years,” said Carroll. “We’re honored to partner with Bret Franks Construction and Southern Living to provide such a deserving family with a place to call home.” 

A groundbreaking ceremony at the homesite in Conway, Arkansas, will take place this spring.

Hixson diligently served his country for over three years, until a deployment to Iraq left him critically wounded.

After graduating high school, Hixson attended boot camp in San Diego where he pursued his goal of becoming a Rifleman. In October 2004, he was deployed to Iraq to serve in Operation Phantom Fury, the initial breach of Fallujah. After his unit captured three insurgents, they were hit with heavy mortar fire that resulted in a six-hour firefight requiring air and tank support. During the fight, a blast of shrapnel struck Hixson in his upper torso and face. The largest piece pierced his left eye, stopping at the orbital bone and knocking him unconscious. He was medevaced to Camp Fallujah and had emergency surgery to enucleate his left eye.

Hixson was awarded a Purple Heart, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal and more. 

After being medically discharged, Hixson returned home and began working in construction. Through mutual friends, he was reconnected with a high school crush, Shala. They married in 2008 and have two children. Hixson enjoys working out, wrestling, camping, hiking and riding bikes with his wife and children.


Based in New Braunfels, Texas, Operation FINALLY HOME was established in 2005 as a nonpartisan/nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to provide homes and home modifications to America’s military heroes and widows of the fallen. 

In 2020, Operation FINALLY HOME is celebrating 15 years honoring heroes with homes. The group recently launched its 200th project. Operation FINALLY HOME partners with corporate sponsors, builder associations, builders, remodelers, developers, individual contributors and volunteers to help these heroes and their families by addressing one of their most pressing needs – a place to call home. For more information about Operation FINALLY HOME, visit OperationFINALLYHOME.org, follow @OpFINALLYHOME on Twitter or find the group on Facebook.

Bret Franks Construction, Inc. 

Bret Franks Construction, Inc. is an established custom homebuilding and remodeling company serving Central Arkansas. The company specializes in quality residential construction with an emphasis in custom detail. The company’s success is based upon providing a professional homebuilding experience for clients as well as dedicated communication regarding the home’s details and budget.  

For more information, visit bretfranks.com or follow on Facebook.   

Southern Living 

Southern Living celebrates the essence of life in the South, covering the best in Southern food, home, garden and travel. Reaching more than 23 million people each month, Southern Living connects consumers to the region’s rich culture through a variety of print, digital, mobile, tablet and event platforms. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the rapidly expanding Southern Living brand is part of Time Inc., one of the largest media companies in the world.