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Dylan Enlists in the U.S. Army

  • Dylan and his family are given a warm welcome by his entire unit at the gate in the airport with a full military assembly! Photo courtesy of Raymie Day Photography.

  • Fitted in his uniform, Dylan was sworn in at his official enlistment ceremony at Fort DeRussy. Photo courtesy of Jessica Kaye Photography.

  • Dylan proudly holds the American Flag after his enlistment ceremony with Make-A-Wish Hawaii staff members John, Amy and Matt. Photo courtesy of Jessica Kaye Photography.

  • Dylan and his unit disembarked on the U.S.S Arizona Memorial and had their own personal tour guide to explore the memorial and its history. Photo courtesy of Raymie Day Photography.

  • Dylan was passed a "challenge coin," a rite of passage into the U.S. Military!

  • Dylan learned how to tie a tourniquet, how to apply a compression bandage, how to inflate a lung and how to perform a tracheotomy in the field. Photo courtesy of Jessica Kaye Photography.

  • Dylan ready for Jungle and Lightning Training! Photo courtesy of KISS Studios.

  • Dylan rappels down the side of a mountain during Jungle Training! Photo courtesy of KISS Studios.

  • Dylan was lucky enough to ride in a Blackhawk helicopter as part of his unit's recon mission over the entire island of Oahu. Photo courtesy of Raymie Day Photography.

  • Dylan learned how to set traps, start fires, rappel and did waterborne school all in one day! Photo courtesy of KISS Studios.

  • Dylan had a blast riding in the Blackhawk helicopter! Photo courtesy of Jessica Kaye Photography.

  • After landing in East Oahu, Dylan and his unit stopped for a quick MRE to fuel up for a physical afternoon. Photo courtesy of Jessica Kaye Photography.

  • Dylan stops for a photo with his squad, the 2-11th Field Artillery Regiment. Photo courtesy of Jessica Kaye Photography.

  • Dylan was given a canister, a gift traditional for a retiring soldier. The red canister lists his ranks and the awards he received throughout his entire wish journey as a soldier. Photo courtesy of Jessica Kaye Photography.

“ This wish lifted the spirits of everyone involved. ”

- Amy Sterry, Make-A-Wish Hawaii COO

For many children, a wish is more than an opportunity to leave their problems behind and step into a world full of joy, laughter and the comfort of family; it is a chance to reach for the stars and pursue a dream they never thought possible.

From the time 13-year-old Dylan was born, his family knew that his heart condition would limit him physically. But as he grew, this ambitious teen pushed the boundaries of his condition, and decided that he wouldn’t let it define him. His one true wish? To be a soldier in the U.S. Army.

Despite a deep passion for serving his country, Dylan’s condition prevents him from officially enlisting in the U.S. Army, so he decided to use his wish to bring that dream to life.

After a long flight from his home in Missouri, Dylan and his family arrived at the Honolulu Airport where they were greeted at their gate by a full military assembly. As is traditional in Hawaii, he was given a lei and smiled brightly as men and women in uniform welcomed him with signs and cheers of excitement. And with his new uniform in hand, Dylan’s wish had officially begun. He hopped into a humvee and quickly changed into his new threads at the hotel.

Dylan was sworn in at his enlistment ceremony at Fort DeRussy. He was about to step into the boots of a real military soldier in training.

The very next day, Dylan was invited to go on the prestigious Admiral’s Barge Tour (a tour usually reserved exclusively for service members). Learning about the history of the USS Utah, USS Oklahoma and USS Arizona memorials, instilled in Dylan a deep appreciation for those who gave their lives for their country. Before leaving the historic site, Dylan was promoted to lieutenant on the Mighty Mo (USS Missouri), an unexpected honor for a 13-year-old boy.

After laying the groundwork, Dylan’s unit took him on a wild ride complete with medical training, jungle and lighting training, a reconnaissance mission in a Blackhawk, obstacle courses, promotion ceremonies and time spent just hanging out with the guys.

Now a Major, it had come time for Dylan to “turn over command” to his successor. The change of command ceremony was followed by a permanent change of duty celebration during which Dylan was presented with a traditional canister, marking the start of his retirement. Perhaps the most memorable part of Dylan’s wish were the bonds that he built with his fellow soldiers.

"One of the things that resonated throughout this experience was an uplifted spirit for everyone involved," said Amy Sterry, COO of Make-A-Wish Hawaii. "Dylan was excited to have the camaraderie and support of his unit, and his unit was equally as happy to have met Dylan and have had the opportunity to participate in his wish."

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June 25, 2012 - 11:25 AM

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Make-A-Wish® Hawaii
P.O. Box 1877
Honolulu, HI 96805
(808) 537-3118 x100