Air Force volunteers pitch in for co-worker's 'Extreme Makeover: Home Edition'

  • Published
  • By Ron Fry
  • Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs
A team of Air Force military members and civilians volunteered Aug. 1 to help a fellow Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employee who is getting a new home as part of ABC-TV's series, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

A team of about 25 Air Force people helped with the makover of the home of James Terpenning, a computer specialist at the Aeronautical Systems Center. The team of volunteers were led by Gen. Donald Hoffman, the Air Force Materiel Command commander, and Lt. Gen. Jack Hudson, the ASC commander.

Mr. Terpenning, who is wheelchair-bound, was nominated for the show by his co-workers at ASC at Wright-Patterson AFB. He is a computer specialist at ASC. 

Until late July, Mr. Terpenning lived in a modest 1,200-square-foot house with his wife, four young children, and his brother who also is confined to a wheelchair.

That house has now been demolished. "Extreme Makeover" celebrities and local construction companies are hard at work building a new home that will be unveiled Aug. 6. This episode of "Extreme Makeover" will air this fall.

"It's an honor to be here to help a deserving member of our Air Force family and also be part of a community-wide effort," General Hudson said.

The Air Force volunteers were the first to begin the demolition process. They fanned out throughout the house to remove handicap-accessible fixtures that will be recycled and donated to deserving disabled veterans. The biggest job was removing a 20-foot long, wooden wheelchair ramp that led to the front door of the house. The Air Force workers quickly detached it and hoisted it by hand into an awaiting truck while the "Extreme Makeover" cameras rolled and a large crowd of spectators cheered.

Volunteers returned throughout the week to help with other tasks as framing for the house went up, the roof went on and interior work began.

The neighborhood resembled a Hollywood movie set as cameramen and sound technicians swarmed the worksite. The show's star, Ty Pennington, used his "Ty Cam" video recorder to interview Air Force people for the show.

This is not the first time the Air Force has come to the aid of Mr. Terpenning. As a young orphan, he was airlifted from Vietnam in 1975 as part of the Operation Babylift. He was among an estimated 2,500 children flown to safety in the final days of the Vietnam War. He suffered from polio as a youth and was adopted by an Ohio family.

Retired Col. Sue Busler, who kicked off the effort to nominate the family for the show, called Mr. Terpenning and his wife, Shannon, "real heroes." She said the work done by the Air Force volunteers was a way to say thanks for all the Terpennings have done for "their Air Force family."

Members of the production team shared that sentiment. 

"The Air Force asked us to build a house for this family. there was no way we could say no after what the Air Force does for all of us," the show's executive producer, Brady Connell, told the Dayton Daily News.