Veteran presented a free car at Fairfield dealership

FAIRFIELD — Shawn Wynter moved to the United States from Jamaica in 2007. Four years later he joined the Army because he wanted to show his gratitude for his new homeland.

He said he served his country for five years, working as a utilities equipment technician and earning the rank of sergeant.

On Thursday, he saw that gratitude returned with a new 2018 Chrysler Pacifica donated by Operation Homefront, a national non-profit organization whose mission is to “build strong, stable, and secure military families.” It worked in partnership with U.S. Bancorp through its Driven to Serve program.

“It’s beautiful,” Wynter quietly said as he walked around the new car. “Thank you so much.”

A single father of five daughters and U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Wynter said the vehicle would help him get his family around.

“Shawn deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2012 and spent seven months providing technical support to an infantry platoon,” a press release on the Fairfield event stated.

Wynter said he received an honorable discharge and was medically retired in 2016 qualifying for 100 percent disability. He just graduated from Sacred Heart University with a bachelor’s degree in social work.

The car he currently owns is “pure problems,” Wynter said. While he and his family live in Waterbury, his oldest daughter still goes to school in Trumbull because he did not want to have to move her before she graduates this year.

“It’s her last year,” he said. “So, I have to travel like 30, 35 miles every morning one way — go back and forth every day. I needed a reliable vehicle. This truly means a lot to me.”

With his large family, Wynter said he does a lot of driving, adding saying thank you to the organizations that helped him would be an understatement.

This is the ninth vehicle donation U.S. Bank is making to Operation Homefront and the 27th vehicle donated to the Driven to Serve initiative overall. It is the first vehicle the program has given away in Connecticut.

Wynter was presented the vehicle at SCAP Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Fairfield, along with some U.S. Bank swag. Rick Heckler, the general sales manager of the dealership, said the Chrysler is worth $40,000 — and later told Wynter the dealership would be providing a 3-year or 30,000 mile warranty.

“Things like this, you wonder if just a thank you can exemplify how much it means, because just a thank you is an understatement,” Wynter said.

Several representatives from U.S. Bank were at the ceremony Thursday morning, each thanking Wynter for his service to the country and speaking of the importance of honoring veterans for the sacrifices they make.

joshua.labella@hearstmediact.com