CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea -- The U.S. Army Garrison Daegu and the 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command hosted a Make-A-Wish Foundation event at Camp Carroll, South Korea, Aug. 11.
Jacob Silva, of Portsmouth, Virginia, requested to visit South Korea with his family to see where his father, a former chaplain assistant, was stationed while he served in the Army. Silva was accompanied by his father, Cort B. Silva, mother, Amber Silva, and brother, Cort Silva.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.
The day included a church service, lunch with soldiers stationed in the area and a party at the Camp Carroll Community Activity Center. The party culminated with a presentation of gifts from senior Army leaders and soldiers who attended the event.
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, the 19th ESC commander, said that he was honored to be a part of the experience.
"I think it's a great reminder for every service member and every family member here in Korea that is serving on behalf of the United States and the United States Army of the importance and the meaning of what we do," Simerly said.
In addition to spending time with the Silva and his family, Simerly presented Silva with a certificate and coin on behalf of the 19th ESC. Simerly also presented Silva with a certificate from Army Gen. Robert B. Abrams, the commander of U.S. Forces-Korea, United Nations Command and Combined Forces Command.
Simerly added that Silva's wish to see the place where his father served is a testament to the family's devotion to service.
Silva was diagnosed with neuro-Behcets in 2016. The rare auto-inflammatory syndrome causes severe inflammation in various parts of the body. In 2017, Silva had a stroke after complications from the disease.
"I had to relearn how to do everything except to talk," Silva said. "Everything from before was still there, like my personality and my hobbies, but I kind of had to rebuild everything."
The effort to get Silva from the U.S. to South Korea involved various organizations and was nearly two years in the making. Though Silva is now 19, his request began with Make-A-Wish Foundation when he was 17.
After beginning with Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia, the request was sent to Make-A-Wish Korea. The Republic of Korea Ministry of Defense was informed soon after and reached out to U.S. Forces- Korea
Over two dozen soldiers attended the event with the Silva family. Four different units from three separate bases in the area were represented at both the lunch and the party.
Army Sgt. Morgan Britton, a human resources specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, USAG Daegu, was excited to help where she could.
"I'm really glad that we've made Jacob [Silva] feel like he's one of us, and that Korea is a little piece of his home because he got to see where his family was at," Britton said.
Silva was grateful following the event. He said his father did not often talk about his time in the Army, but he always had great things to say about his time in South Korea.
Silva said his favorite part of the event was interacting with the soldiers.
"I really liked how when we came here the soldiers were really welcoming," Silva said. "They're really nice and it was really fun being able to play video games with them."