Eleven-year-old Carl often imagines he is somewhere else. Over the past few years, Carl’s interest in history has helped him take his mind off of his treatment for leukemia.
So, when Carl found out he was eligible to receive a wish through Make-A-Wish® Alaska and Washington, he decided to let history come to life through his wish to be a World War II fighter pilot stationed at Pearl Harbor.
Carl’s historic journey began in Seattle when he received a folder with the secrets for his WWII mission. But, before he could soar back in time, Carl would undergo real survivor skill training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. After his training—which included time in a flight simulator, making a smoke generator and eating an ant—Carl was ready to begin his mission.
Carl’s wish was just beginning, but his dad, James, said their day of training was “the most amazing day I have ever had with Carl.”
When Carl arrived in Hawaii, he quickly found that the Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard were all taking part in making his wish come true, which was the first time this had ever happened for a wish. Only a wish can bring together all branches of the armed forces with such ease!
Carl was escorted via a caravan of WWII vehicles to the USS Missouri Battleship Memorial to become an official member of the Army Air Corps. There, Carl was given his uniform and commissioned as a First Class Lieutenant. He spent his first night sleeping on the USS Missouri with the Marines and his dad.
The next morning, Carl and his dad were transported to Dillingham Airfield by a WWII military convoy. After his arrival, Carl climbed aboard an aircraft to receive a bird’s-eye view of Oahu. After landing safely, the Marines put Carl’s new training skills to the test. Carl’s day was filled with search and rescue missions on the island of Oahu. He spent the full day lost in history, living out all his heroic dreams with his dad and countless military professionals.
“There are so many more people involved than I thought,” Carl said. “It’s really good to know that everyone wanted to help me with my dream.”
Sitting next to the campfire, looking down on a remote island, soaring over tropical waters—that’s where Carl experienced what it may have been like to be a fighter pilot during WWII.
But it’s easy to forget that Carl really is a fighter. He spent three years battling Leukemia, and this wish is part of his fight.
Today, Carl still is still undergoing chemotherapy treatments. But he also has an army of supporters who salute his bravery, optimism and incredible strength. Like the veterans of WWII he knows so much about, all of us honor Carl as the hero he is.
Special Thanks: Wish-granting volunteers Marcie Rohwer and Marta Zabaryla, Make-A-Wish Hawaii, Alaska Airlines, Platinum Limousines, Gentry Productions, Jon Whittington, Leis of Hawaii, Skydive of Hawaii, Avis, Sheraton Waikiki, Dahlia Lounge, Joint Fort Lewis-McCord, Rebecca J. Moat Photography, USS Missouri