"If you seek our title, the path ahead of you will be one of great challenge. Prevail, and your proudest days will be realized.” It is a hot summer day at a Virginia Marine base. A drill sergeant shouts these words at new recruits; he leaves no doubt in their minds that anyone who aspires to claim the title of United States Marine must first earn it.
While wish kids have their own battles to fight, it may surprise you just how many kids wish to be Marines. They’re also the perfect candidates - tough, resilient and willing to do what it takes to get the job done.
Jorge’s Rise Through the Ranks
Five-year-old Jorge is already fearless. Every day is a battle in Jorge’s world. When he’s not fighting retinoblastoma, Jorge’s drawing up war strategies and playing soldiers with his friends. Jorge’s wish is to be a real Marine for a day; thanks to the Marines at Camp Pendleton, Jorge became a full-fledged general.
Jorge meets with General Vincent A. Coglianese, the commanding officer at Camp Pendleton, and countless other Marines. They are careful with him at first, asking if he is able to participate in a Marine Martial Arts training session. Sure enough, Jorge shows them that he is more than capable and no man to be trifled with when he uses his newly acquired skills on the mat. You would think that these men would be grizzled and hard, but they were all excited to take part in Jorge’s wish and treated him as a true, fellow Marine. “It makes you feel good, at the end of the day, that we helped even just a little bit,” Gen. Coglianese told volunteers through a strong jaw and a pair of misty eyes. “He’s a brave little guy, full of life and energy,” Sgt. Daniel Mullis added.
A Glimpse into Life as a Marine
Chopper blades whir overhead as Riley goes for a helicopter patrol mission with his fellow servicemen, fully suited in a combat-ready Marine uniform. He sees the land down below out of the open doors and feels the rush of flight. He gets to do things that are normally restricted to people who are not among the few and the proud. His day as a Marine is not one he can forget. Staff Sergeant Jeremy Hager notices something about Riley immediately – all the qualities that make an “outstanding Marine.” Proud to participate in the wish, Major Chris Crown said, “Anytime you are able to come through on a child’s wish, the expression you see on their face makes all the hard work worthwhile.”
Following the Family Legacy
Wanting to follow in the footsteps of his uncle and grandfather, both service men, Dalton wished to be a Marine. The honor and courage that the Marines represent are all that Dalton admires and respects. He eyes up the Marine Corps obstacle course and soon enough he’s climbing up the very ropes and ladders that our country’s finest train on. Never too far away is a smiling Marine, happy to have the opportunity to help grant a wish. Never the ones to shy away from a situation, they are always willing to lend a helping hand whenever possible. Dalton wakes up every day to battle leukemia, but from this day forward he will rise and fight as a member of the United States Marine Corps. The Marines let him know that he isn’t fighting alone.