Season 3 | Episode 302 | Aired 09/24/2005
A brave Iraq War soldier and medic -- a man who has endured much tragedy in the past -- and his family are the latest recipients of an Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
As a child in Puerto Rico, Master Sergeant Luis Rodriguez dreamed of joining the United States Army. In 1990 he enlisted and made his dream a reality. He loved working as a medic and being able to help save his fellow soldiers, but while serving in Iraq last year, he was the one who needed saving.
In March of 2003, at the beginning of the war, Sgt. Rodriguez was shipped out with his unit to Iraq. He served for nine months before tragedy literally hit. While en route to a recently looted hospital in Mosul, Sgt. Rodriguez's convoy was ambushed when his Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb. In that instant he lost his right leg above the knee, lost two left fingertips, and sustained serious shrapnel wounds to his left leg. Now the medic who loved helping others needed someone to rescue him!
Sgt. Rodriguez spent the next four months at an amputee ward, undergoing 16 separate surgeries and learning how to walk again with a new prosthetic leg and crutches. He and his wife, Lillian, and their two daughters, Michelle, eight, and Melanie, six, live in Clarksville, Tennessee. But their small home is too narrow and awkward to accommodate his crutches and new needs. He constantly trips on the carpet, has to navigate his way carefully around furniture and hallways, and can barely manage to get into the bathroom.
Despite all that's happened, Sgt. Rodriguez refuses to retire from the Army and the job he loves. He is now working as an instructor at the combat school of medicine at the Army's Ft. Campbell base, while his wife is studying to be a social worker in order to become a counselor to the families of injured or killed soldiers. This brave couple have taken tragedy and turned it into triumph, but they can't turn their tiny home into a place that is friendly for an amputee without some help.
Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, along with local Clarksville builder Clay Powers LLC and the non-profit organizations Disabled American Veterans and Homes for our Troops, will give this deserving soldier and his family a home he can be proud of.
While the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition design team, contractors and hundreds of workers and volunteers are transforming the Rodriguez's house into a dream home, they will go on to a rehabilitation facility in Akron, OH, and Sgt. Rodriguez will be fitted for a new prosthetic leg.
The design team for this episode of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition will feature team leader Ty Pennington, Paul DiMeo, Ed Sanders, Preston Sharp and Paige Hemmis.