Boy gets wish: Becomes honorary Fort Sill Soldier
May 2, 2011
FORT SILL, Okla., May 2, 2011 -- The 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery Regiment, from Fort Sill, Okla., made wishes come true for a little boy in Wyoming, Thursday. Erick Morales, a boy from Powell, Wyo., always wanted to be a Soldier; and the battalion Soldiers helped make that dream a reality.
Erick has been diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy, and has already lost the ability to move his legs, and some movement in his arms and hands. Knowing Erick and the things he loved, his Respite Care Provider Whitney Marsh took it upon herself to contact the National Guard and ask for some help.
In response to her request, the National Guard jumped into overdrive. What was Erick's wish' It was to be Soldier.
"This is just something that I wanted to do for Erick, and it got a little bigger than I ever could have imagined," said Marsh.
Lt. Col. Samuel House, the Wyoming National Guard public affairs officer, took on the task to create every opportunity he could for this soon-to-be Soldier. He immediately found out who would be training in the area at the time and started making arrangements for the new Soldiers' visit.
House arranged for a day of activities ranging from visiting with the local Fire Department and 2-18 Field Artillery Regiment, to firing the Army's weapons and watching a live Close Air Support exercise. This young Soldier would get to see it all.
"Working with the active duty unit 2-18 made this really easy to come together," House said. "After contacting the unit, they just ran with it. They really just took the initiative to make this day a special day for Erick."
The day started early, but not as early as Maria Morales had planned. Her son Erick, eager to start the day was up at five o'clock and was raring to go. Arrangements had been made for a private plane to pick them up and take them to Camp Guernsey, Wyo.
Clifford Main, a pilot working for Pilots For Christ, had volunteered his time and plane to help create a wonderful day for Erick and his family. That is exactly what they were in store for.
"Having the opportunity to see the smile on his face and the light in his eyes makes everything worth it" Main said.
Erick arrived with a huge smile on his face, an energy that could wear down the strongest warrior, and the drive to do all that he could. He was greeted by the Camp Guernsey Fire Department and before too long he was on his way to do his rounds of the post, with full sirens and lights, of course.
After they completed his tour of the post, he was taken to the motor pool where 2-18 FAR had set up their operations. He was greeted by some of the largest tracked vehicles in the Army's arsenal, the M88 Recovery vehicle, and the M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System Vehicle.
Sgt. 1st Class Douglas Ferguson and Maj. Brian Saul took the opportunity to pin the new Soldier with his new rank and start his Army day. The now Sgt. 1st Class Erick Morales was able to command the M88 for a ride and shoot a simulated fire mission in the launcher. During his rides his energy and happiness spread to the Soldiers who were assisting him.
"It was great to have the opportunity to help out today," said Staff Sgt. Kerry Whitaker, chief of the M270A1 launcher from 2-18 FAR. "You could see that it was brightening up his world and I have to say it brightened mine as well."
Following a brief lunch, Erick decided it was time to head to the simulation center to see what they were up to. Here Erick came into the room and was greeted by a long line of the Army's weapons. From the M-16 rifle to the AT-4, an anti-tank weapon, Erick had his pick.
The Simulation center was not short on targets either. So with the help of Lt. Col. House, Erick let loose on the .50 caliber machine gun and took out as many targets as he could find.
The next stop on the tour was a Close Air Support Exercise Live Fire, where Erick was given a head set and was involved in calling in close air support and Show of Force operations with a few F-18 Super Hornets assigned to the 140th Fighter Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, stationed at Buckley Air Force base in Aurora, Colorado.
After the drive back to main post, it was just about time to call it a day. Erick was driven back to 2-18 FAR's command post and was given some gifts from numerous individuals including the Fort Sill post commander, Maj. Gen. David Halverson and Command Sgt. Maj. Dwight Morrisey.
He was loaded into a Humvee with all his new gear and was driven back to the airport, but not before he correctly called in his Start Point over the radio first.
By the end of the day, there were smiles everywhere and it was all due to the newest Honorary Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Erick Morales.
"Seeing him smile here today makes me think that all we have done has been worth it," said Erick's mother, Maria Morales. "This day is the greatest gift the Soldiers could ever give to him. They don't know how much this means to us."
Although a little weary from the long day, Erick still managed some humor and laughter while boarding the plane.
"All my dreams have come true," said Erick.