Andrew often wears camouflage idolizing the courageous men and women who serve in the armed forces. A six-year-old diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the strength of these dedicated people is an inspiration while living with the challenges of this critical illness.
The Make-A-Wish® team knew they had to grant this boy’s wish to help him thrive through his treatments. They contacted all four branches of the U.S. military, active, Reserve & National Guard, who worked together to give Andrew an incredible day among their ranks.
When Andrew and his family report to March Air Reserve Base - only 30 minutes away from their home - the Air Force personnel make Andrew feel like a part of the crew. They give him a flight suit, helmet and helmet bag. They even pin aviator’s wings onto his uniform, so he’s ready to aim high.
They visit the Falcons, who keep the runway cleared of smaller birds. Then they take a tour of a C-17 transport plane, which was stopping at March on a training mission from Travis Air Force Base.
Next up, the Few, the Proud: the Marines. Andrew meets a detachment of Marines bound for Camp Pendleton in Southern California. The Marines give Andrew a uniform fitted just for him and make him honorary Sergeant Major. This stirs jokes among the Marines saying Andrew’s only been there for five minutes, but has more ranks than they’d received in 10 years.
The Army and Navy are eager to meet Andrew as well. One long-serving soldier is so pleased to meet the wish kid that he gives Andrew a collection of coins and medals he collected over nearly 40 years.
The Navy also decks Andrew in uniform and lets him sit in the captain’s chair of a rigid-hulled inflatable boat. Then the Navy Sea Cadets show off their “armory” and let Andrew target practice their computerized shooting range.
“He was just having fun,” said his mom, Diane, about a boy who deserved a joyful break away from the worry of his treatments.
Andrew even gets to see all the military hardware up-close. He sees everything from a supersonic F-16 fighter to a huge KC-135 airborne tanker. He climbs inside and loves taking a look around. Though he can’t go in, the unmanned Predator also fascinates Andrew.
Andrew hosts show him inside fire trucks, military police cars and a super cool Humvee. But then it’s time to return to civilian life.
Hundreds of military personnel took part in Andrew’s wish. And no matter what uniform they wore, they were all united in that day’s mission – bringing joy to one courageous kid. Andrew will always remember the dedicated people he met that day.