By Carole Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
LCpl Ben Maenza cuts the ribbon to get to the door to his specially designed home built by the Jones Company with Eugene Radford of the AT&T Veteran Employees group, his parents, Larry Gill with Homes for Our Troops, former Brentwood Police Chief Ricky Watson and Chief Jeff Hughes. Carole Robinson
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Homes for Our Troops is a non-profit organization founded in 2004 by a construction supervisor with a vision to “build homes and rebuild lives” of soldiers who return home with serious injuries.
His vision was to provide homes at no cost to the veteran that would help them gain back some of the freedom of movement and independence they once knew before their injury.
SPC Andrew Wilson, whose "Key" ceremony was held the day before LCpl Ben Maenza'a ceremony, was in the audience supporting his comrade in arms in his special moment.
This weekend two local soldiers received the keys to their new homes, specially designed and built by the Jones Company to accommodate their needs.
Army SPC4 Andrew Wilson lost both legs on Oct. 19, 2011 in an IED explosion in Bagram, Afghanistan.
Last Saturday, Wilson was presented the keys to his own home in Nolen Park subdivision in Nolensville, not too far from his dad and stepmom, Cliff and Kim Wilson.
Wilson spent Saturday night at his house with “buddies from my platoon,” Delta Company, 3rd Platoon 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Drum, New York.
Meanwhile, last Sunday morning, also the 238th birthday of the US Marine Corps, Wilson was up early to attend a Key Ceremony for Marine LCpl Ben Maenza, at his home on Kelly Road in Brentwood, only five minutes from his mom and dad, Jama and Mike.
On Oct 21, 2010, almost one year before Wilson sustained his injuries, Maenza lost both legs and sustained severe injuries to his arm while on patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan.
A pressure plated IED exploded after being stepped on. That was just three weeks into his first deployment.
Dignitaries and special guests filled the tents and grounds at both young soldiers’ homes.
They spoke of character, sacrifice and the appreciation of a community that strives to take care of its own. Gov. Bill Haslam sent a resolution proclaiming a “Day of Recognition” for both Wilson and Maenza.
At Maenza’s ceremony his father, Mike, spoke of a family military tradition that began with his father in 1944 when he joined the Air Force and found himself in a C-4 over Normandy on D-Day.
Twenty-one years later Michael joined the Air Force, climbed into a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and flew into combat in Vietnam.
Forty-five years later Ben joined the Marines. He quipped about why he chose this division of the military. “Because they have the best looking uniforms,” he said.
“I’m just so happy this gives him the independence he needs to survive,” Mike added. “A house this size and quality will minimize the problems he’ll have becoming a productive citizen.”
“This house will enhance my life. There are no stairs, no noisy neighbors upstairs,” Maenza said.
Wide doors and hallways and an open floor plan allow Maenza and Wilson to manuever easily whether in a wheel chair or on their prosthetic legs as their new life takes them in a direction they never imagined when they enlisted.
As part of that new life, Wilson is interning at Superior Orthotics and Prosthetics in Nashville, learning how to modify them for patients of all ages and sizes.
Maenza is a junior at Lipscomb University majoring in business management.
Posted on: 11/15/2013