(Photo by Mark Seavey)

Soldier’s Wish renovates Tulsa Post 1 in 'Extreme Makeover'

It’s going to be a busy 72 hours for Soldier’s Wish and more than 100 volunteers giving a makeover to Oklahoma Post 1 in Tulsa this weekend. On Thursday night, demolition on the existing infrastructure began on the $100,000 renovation.

One of the oldest posts in America, Tulsa Post 1, the Carson Wilson Rigney Forrester Shoemaker Post – named after fallen heroes from World Wars 1 and II, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan – needed remodeling to update the post for a new generation. But as the renovation began, it was discovered that the main hall of the post had historical paintings of all the division patches from WWI under the wood paneling.

“We decided to keep the patches because of their historical value” said Jim Moore of Soldier’s Wish. “We want to update the look, but we definitely want to keep the historical value of the paintings as a nod to previous generations. So, we changed the plan on the fly.”

The patches weren’t the only surprise, as when the sign out front was removed to make place for a new one donated by a sponsor, the original sign from the early 20s was discovered. Efforts are being made to preserve this bit of history as well.

Working almost 24 hours a day, various volunteers come and go and pitch in as work continues. Today the interior ceiling was repainted and the walls are being varnished and preserved. Outside landscapers prepared for the new 35-foot flag pole that will be erected by a Boy Scout troop later today.

With tornado warnings being issued for Sunday, there is a sense of urgency to get as much accomplished as quick as possible.

Kevin McDugle, executive director of Soldier’s Wish, welcomed the volunteers and thanked them for their continuing service to America’s veterans.

“Every second of sweat-equity you put into this building is worth it,” the former Marine told the volunteers this morning. “But think of those guys and girls are who are still overseas right now, doing what they do so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today. Thank you so much, it’s going to be an exciting and good weekend. We’re gonna work together and get this done in three days, so if I were you I’d call 10 of your friends and get them here, too!”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Sunday at 4 p.m., weather permitting. National Vice Commander Wayne Satrom will be on hand to represent the Legion.