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Hancock Field Officer To Compete on Wheel of Fortune

New York Air National Guard Lt. Col. Douglas Daeffler, a member of the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron stationed at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York, will be a contestent on Wheel of Fortune on Monday, November 12, 2012. (photo by New York Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Call/Released).

New York Air National Guard Lt. Col. Douglas Daeffler, a member of the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron stationed at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York, will be a contestent on Wheel of Fortune on Monday, November 12, 2012. (photo by New York Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Call/Released).

Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, New York -- Lt. Col. Doug Daeffler stationed here with the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron will make his national television debut, along with his wife Joan, as "Wheel of Fortune" contestants on November 12 during "Military Families Week."

Daeffler, a 28-year military veteran, currently serves as an Air Liaison Officer with the New York Air National Guard. He previously flew rescue helicopters for the U.S. Coast Guard.

After visiting wheeloffortune.com, Joan surprised her husband by applying for a local audition in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Several weeks later she got a call telling the couple that they'd been selected to audition.

They made the drive to Northeastern Pennsylvania on July 17, 2012 to participate in the five-hour tryout process with 60 other candidates.

"We got to play mock Wheel of Fortune games and had to take a test with puzzles, where you had to do as many as you could in five minutes," Lt. Col. Daeffler explained.

After the tests were graded, they dismissed about three-quarters of the group.

"After that first round, we played another more intense round of games, where you pretend you're actually on the show, introduce yourselves and practice spinning the wheel," he said. "They were looking for someone who's upbeat and has a good personality."

Potential candidates were told to expect a letter in the mail. When a month and a half had gone by with no word, Daeffler thought he didn't make it. Then, in mid-September, he received a call asking if he and his wife were interested in traveling to Hollywood the following month to be part of Military Families Week.

The Daefflers were accompanied to the live taping on October 17 by their daughter-in-law Kristina, who lives in Southern California. Contestants had to arrive at 6:15 a.m., but taping didn't start until 12:30 p.m. The six shows for Military Families Week were taped on the same day, with the Daefflers' show being taped starting at 1:30 p.m.

"Everything went relatively fast," Lt. Col. Daeffler said. "We went through all the legalities, signed a contract, they explained the rules on cheating and we got a tour of the studio. We had make-up people and everything."

"It is a lot easier to play Wheel of Fortune at home," Daeffler continued. "With the lights, live audience and need to push everything along, it was a little nerve wracking." "I kept going through my head what I was going to say. We started playing and, all of a sudden, it was over."

Although the Daefflers watch "Wheel of Fortune" regularly, they said there were still some surprises on the set. "The wheel itself is very heavy, harder to spin than you would think," Lt. Col. Daeffler said.

Despite his nerves, Daeffler said his family had a fun day meeting the crew and hosts of the show.

"Pat Sajak and Vanna White were really down to earth; they've done this for 30 years, and they talked to us like were everyday people, making jokes and telling us not to be nervous," he said. "It was nice that they were so personable."