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Alisa Brings Battling Spirit to Marines


“We all battle our own wars and you’re battling one of the highest ones. ”

- Sgt. Major Frank Cirou

Combined Federal Campaign CFC

Camp Pendleton - it's a place familiar to many United States Marine Corps personnel.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo speaks during the morning presentation of the colors. Today, he introduces Alisa. She has one wish – to be a Marine. As his words echo, every Marine applauds.

Alisa is used to things going wrong. From being diagnosed with a brain tumor to hearing she had two months to live to re-learning how to walk and talk … she is all too familiar with challenges. She has overcome every obstacle just to stand in front of the Marines at Camp Pendleton.

Connecting to the Marine Mission

Today, though, everything will go right at Camp Pendleton. The Marines will do for Alisa as they’ve done for many other Make-A-Wish kids: They’ll make time in their schedule and their hearts. They will find in Alisa’s wish a renewed and stronger sense of appreciation for the people who serve alongside them, and for the principles they uphold.

Her experience begins with a uniform and the rank insignia of a Private First Class. From there, she has a choice for her day at Camp Pendleton: the easy way, or the Marine way.

“I wanted to get dirty and see how they do everything and experience it,” Alisa tells a local newspaper.

A Day in a Marine’s Life

Alisa timed her visit perfectly. Today, a class of recruits will win the right to call themselves Marines. This rite of passage establishes a bond between all the men and women who wear the eagle, globe and anchor.

The Marines arrange for Alisa to receive an “Honorable Mention” plaque during the graduation ceremony. It’s a memento that is sure to be among her most-treasured possessions. They also give her a drill instructor’s campaign hat and a shooting jacket.

And Alisa is the first person to use the new Camp Pendleton virtual activity and martial arts rooms.

Earning Her Honors

Alisa finds something more important than the activities and souvenirs, though. The way Marines react to her wish moves her, and becomes her favorite part of the experience.

During her visit, she meets retired Sgt. Major Frank Cirou. He served in WWII, and he has words of encouragement for her ongoing fight against brain cancer.

“We all battle our own wars and you’re battling one of the highest ones,” he says. Sgt. Major Cirou also offers Alisa a challenge coin from his collection. Each one symbolizes his long years of service – but he believes Alisa has earned one for her spirit. The one he offers bears his name and photo, and Alisa keeps it with her every day.

Today, Alisa feels better. She has overcome setbacks before – should another rise, her experience with the Marines makes her feel like she won’t face it alone.

  • Alisa meets her sergeants.

  • The Marines add to Alisa’s growing collection of gear.

  • A Marine colonel and a sergeant make time to take a photo with Alisa.

  • Alisa at the graduation ceremony.

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Alisa is a warrior past, present and future.

January 14, 2015 - 3:40 AM


Alisa, as you fight always remember you are never alone!!! Marines always stand together to overcome anything in our path.

January 14, 2015 - 12:11 PM

Carol H.

Thank you so much for all you do for Wish Kids. My granddaughter, Kayla Kelly was Justin Beibers first Wish Kid/ She had a heart transplant. She got a tattoo that said NEVER SAY NEVER. He gave her a guitar. He has become not so popular but he had granted wishes to more than 250 kids. I am believe his life will turn around. Kayla fought a long and valiant battle but earned her angel wings at age 21 on 11/12/13. Her wish came true because of all of you at NE PA and VA Make-A-Wish. Thank you so very much for everything. You are one of my favorite charities. Hugs, Carol H. of Sugarloaf, PA. PS. I am always available if you would need a volunteer speaker.

January 14, 2015 - 4:26 PM


Alisa, what a wonderful story, I am a brain tumor survivor. My tumor wasn't supposed to grow, I was told not to worry about it. I became sicker and sicker and demanded a Mir. My neurologists ordered one although he didn't feel it was necessary. I had to go from Atlanta to Chicago for a family emergency. I worked in the emergency room. When I got back from my trip I had a Dr friend look up my test results as I heard nothing from my Dr. Low and behold that tumor grew so much that it caused a midline shift (brain was tilting from the tumor) I had to have an emergency crainiotomy, then 6 weeks later I noticed a couple areas the size of a quarter were denting in. I keep getting more so I had to have a crainioplasty. I have a lot of faith in God and a positive attitude. I am so happy for you becoming a marine. I hope you get to see this and email me back, that would be awesome! Godspeed😇

January 14, 2015 - 7:44 PM

Charles C.

Alisa, Carry on Sister in arms, you are awesome, happy for your accomplishments, proud of you. Nam Vet U.S.M.C 69 - 71

January 14, 2015 - 10:00 PM


Semper Fi devil dog. It inspires me to have you among the ranks.

January 15, 2015 - 2:41 AM

Kat L.

Great passion and strength!!!! Semper Fi!!!! You make the Marines proud!!

January 17, 2015 - 10:32 AM

Alexandra J.

A Marine will always be a Marine

January 17, 2015 - 10:35 AM

Thomas D.

She shows what every Marine has. The spirit and pride we have to call ourselves United States Marines. Ooraah. Semper Fi.

January 17, 2015 - 11:11 AM

Justin M.

Semper fi brothers and sister semper fi

January 17, 2015 - 11:24 AM


Welcome to the Marine Family, Lisa. Semper Fi.

January 17, 2015 - 11:28 AM


You are one of us now young lady. We'll be there if you call. Keep up the good fight. Semper Fidelis

January 17, 2015 - 11:52 AM

Myron C.

Good choice to want to be the best in the world wish other young people had your courage Semper fi Devil dog3pu

January 17, 2015 - 12:23 PM


Welcome to the brother/sisterhood. You will beat this tumor as Marines will overcome and adapt to any situation. You have your orders. The Marines will not accept anything else. SF

January 17, 2015 - 12:54 PM

Rusty McIntosh

Heard. Understood, Reacted and Accomplished. Charley Mike.

January 17, 2015 - 12:55 PM


Welcome to the family Marine Gods Speed Semper Fi

January 17, 2015 - 1:30 PM


Semper fi little warrior may your journey be victorous and your pride shinning bright.

January 17, 2015 - 1:35 PM

Daniel ybarra

Alisa just remember that your not alone in your fight you'll now have allot of big brother and sister backing you now I'll already have a warm place in my heart for you you'll always be my baby sister or should I say my baby bulldog Semper Fi baby sister my love goes out to you as for all my prayers💖💖💖💖 just a little thing I went in to the Maine Corp when I was 17 also in 1976 don't give up the fight baby bulldog

January 17, 2015 - 2:40 PM

Casey H. (vet) 1983-87

Welcome aboard young lady

January 17, 2015 - 2:51 PM


Semper Fi Pfc. Alisa... May you live a long & happy life.. Your spirit is so very encouraging.. God Bless you and the Marine Corp..

January 17, 2015 - 3:14 PM


I remember this day. I was one of the DIs that she watched. She was an amazing little girl. SHE made us want to be better and stronger!

January 17, 2015 - 3:15 PM


Double Semper Fi from a Marine who has witnessed and felt boot camp and the bull of brain cancer. My wife had the cancer. You are a beautiful special person who is battling the ultimate fight. God Bless you and your family.

January 17, 2015 - 4:08 PM

Eric W.

Welcome,young lady Semper Fi! And kill Taft cancer Marine!

January 17, 2015 - 4:09 PM


CHARLIE QUICK SGT USMC 1952-1960 KOREA 1953-'54-'55

January 17, 2015 - 4:22 PM

James R.

You are a true Warrior Alisa, I Salute you, "Keep 'er Lit" Marine, Semper Fi .... OOORAH !!, .... Faugh~a~Ballagh !!,

January 17, 2015 - 5:42 PM

Dale L.

I've been inspired by a lot of marines to become a marine and Alisa's story has given me a greater hope to be a marine. I wish her the best wishes and gratitude for her life's adventure . Semper Fi Alisa oorah !

January 17, 2015 - 6:06 PM


she is warrior proud and Marine all the way, so proud with how she battles

January 17, 2015 - 6:59 PM


From one Marine to another, Semper Fi! What a great wish and what a great thing the Marines did to make it come true! That's awesome and I hope and pray for her and her family.

January 17, 2015 - 7:41 PM


Hoorah, Alisa, from now on you'll never be alone,
Once a Marine always a Marine. Semper Fi

January 17, 2015 - 7:59 PM

Robert B.

Semper Fi Alisa. Stay strong. you are a motivation to all Marines and I wish you could join our ranks . May God be by your side

January 17, 2015 - 8:29 PM

Kay L.


January 17, 2015 - 9:07 PM


Semper Fi Alisa!

January 17, 2015 - 9:58 PM



January 17, 2015 - 11:15 PM


You have now become a part of a much bigger family. Once a Marine, always a Marine. You are a part of the brotherhood, past, present, and future. Semper Fi

January 18, 2015 - 12:04 AM

Russell M.

Hold close to your faith and your loved ones. We Marines will be there every step of the way with you. Semper Fi, Alisa

January 18, 2015 - 7:32 AM


Semper Fi Marine

January 18, 2015 - 8:00 AM

Ben L.

I am proud to call you a Marine! Semper Fi Alisa! (74-79)

January 18, 2015 - 8:45 AM

David S., CPL, USMC 96-00

Keep up the good fight Alisa. Semper Fi.

January 18, 2015 - 9:33 AM

Jacqueline B.

You are truly an honorary Woman Marine. God bless you and Semper Fi!

January 18, 2015 - 12:00 PM

Don S

Semper Fi warrior. You are truly an inspiration

January 18, 2015 - 1:33 PM

Brenda R. S.

Alisa I wish you nothing but the best. You wanting to b a Marine wow it's amazing. I'm a Marine myself n to see that that was your wish makes me feel prouder to b called Marine. God bless you today and always.. Semper Fi PFC..

January 18, 2015 - 2:41 PM


Welcome to the Marine family you are one of us now OohRah!

January 18, 2015 - 5:51 PM

Tim R.

God speed, young lady. Proud to have you as one of us. Stay strong!

January 18, 2015 - 6:47 PM

Jeanne T.

this is so heart warming for our men in the military to do this for alisa. im just so proud.

January 18, 2015 - 7:50 PM

brad r.

Alisa you keep what you learned there. I was not a marine but I did eight years in the army n served 18 months in Iraq. I learned even marines and army n other forces when put together make a brother hood in arms in the heat of battle though at home we humor ourselves with rigorous nagging at each other. This brotherhood is earned with our training that no matter our uniform or skin color we stand n fight beside each other like family. You keep fighting and you will also see the bonds and influences you can give to those who need inspiration. Just keep fighting and remember like all of us soldiers learn..." Never give up n don't surrender yourself till there's no fight anymore and then and only then will your goals be accomplished your soul n spirit remembered for you fought bravely... Hooah" spec. Bradley D. R.

January 18, 2015 - 8:44 PM

LCPL Kimberly B.

It is heart breaking that a young lady with her fight and drive. Isn't able to join a fighting force that would be honored to have someone with that much heart. Because being a Marine. Is about having heart and fight againist all adversity!..Semper Fi.

January 18, 2015 - 9:03 PM


Semper fi
I am a Marine vet and this made me more proud to be a marine

January 18, 2015 - 10:20 PM

melinda w.

This story made me cry.She's wonderful and I hope n pray for a miracle for her.This story reminds me of my son .The Marines run in his blood.His dad side has a long history in the Marines
Due to his Type One Diabetes,he can't go in. But to me My son is a Marine. Bless the Marines.I wish my son could have gone in. I would be one proud momma like her mom is. Bless you all for making her dream come true.LYED6

January 18, 2015 - 11:26 PM

Bill C.

Alisa, you stand tall no matter what comes your way. You already have the Marine's heart, and that's all you need. Semper Fi, Bill Cunningham, MSgt (Ret), USMC

January 19, 2015 - 7:13 AM

Anthony D.

Alisa, Congratulations on becoming one of the family. We are honored to have you amongst our ranks. We all (old and young) stand by to help you in your fight. You are never alone. Semper Fi! Gunnery Sergeant Davis

January 20, 2015 - 10:14 AM


almost 34 yrs ago I went to a marine recruiting office. Long story short, health and medical issues, made my dream end. It broke my heart. I have family and friends that are Marines. So if I may say to you Semper Fi. Your story has put a few stiches in my heart. Thanks to the Marine Corp for stepping up. Just as they have done for over 240 years. I am not one of you but am one of you, Semper Fi, my brothers and sisters. Great timing for me to release my thoughts. Alisa I pray that you overcome your battle. I will include you in my prayers tonight.

January 20, 2015 - 6:03 PM



To be a Marine is much more than wearing a uniform and walking straight. It is fighting the constant battle for right over wrong and doing what is right because it the right thing to do even when it is not popular.

As you travel through your daily trials, remember that you are now a member of the roughest, toughest, and a** kickin'est family God has ever placed on this earth and you will be assigned a place guarding the gates of heaven with us as we transition with you.

PFC Alisa, I, LCpl. P.T. Matthews, do hereby render my hand salute to you, young lady.

Semper Fi, Godspeed, and welcome aboard.

January 20, 2015 - 6:30 PM


Alisa, I am the mother of three Marines. If there is one thing i know, it is the spirit and determination of a Marine and I sense that spirit and determination in you. Your story has been an inspiration to me. You are in my prayers.

January 20, 2015 - 6:39 PM


beat that disease u are fighting with.u can make it

January 21, 2015 - 12:50 AM

Armando S.

I hope she enjoyed herself and that she enjoys all the things she wants.

January 21, 2015 - 5:23 PM

grace e.

Way to go. Keep up the good work

January 21, 2015 - 10:38 PM


Oorah, welcome aboard young lady. Take care and Semper Fi!!!

February 02, 2015 - 5:44 PM


Now, wherever you may go, the United States Marines are your brothers & sister's. You will never be alone. SEMPER FI!!!

February 02, 2015 - 5:46 PM


Marines have and always will look out for one another, no matter what. It's what defines Us and bonds Us in times of trouble. You got a little taste of it in your visit...carry it with you and Remember It. It has served me well through the years, Semper Fidelis.

February 02, 2015 - 6:38 PM


Alisa, Marines take care of their own! You are one us, Semper Fi

February 02, 2015 - 7:21 PM

Michael G.

Welcome to the Marine Family Young Devil Dog, and Semper Fi, USMC 86-91

February 02, 2015 - 8:09 PM

David G.

Semper Fi. Marine.

February 02, 2015 - 9:57 PM

frederick l b

Ooooooh Raaaaaah Alisa. I am thankful for your commitment to yourself and picking the Marines to help you fulfill your wish. It is my wish that you win this battle and remember ONCE A MARINE ALWAYS A MARINE! Welcome to our club. Rick Bowling, USMC 1965-1972 and USMCR 1977-1984

February 03, 2015 - 8:54 AM

Allen B., USMC Retired

Semper Fi!

February 03, 2015 - 10:55 AM


Well done in stepping to the plate and taking the ultimate challenge, that only the few and the proud are officially a "LITTLE GREEN AMPHIBIOUS MONSTER" UUUURAAAH!!!!

February 03, 2015 - 2:41 PM


Semper Fi! Devildog!

February 03, 2015 - 3:03 PM


Alisa you're the things that dreams and what makes future happen and that's how she is true Devildog form The future Marines that are to come "SEMPER FI"

February 03, 2015 - 8:02 PM

Charles Robertson

Welcome aboard, Semper Fi.

February 03, 2015 - 8:45 PM