Marines at Camp Pendleton served their community in a different way Saturday by granting the Make-A-Wish of a Poway teenager battling cancer.
James Gallant, who is on the verge of turning 16, was just diagnosed with brain cancer.
His wish? To be a Marine for the day.
“James has loved the military since he was two years old and always wanted to be a part of it,” James’ mother, Sarah Silverstein, told Marines at Camp Pendleton.
During his two years of junior ROTC in high school, James became especially interested in Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD).
So to make his wish come true, James and his family were invited to spend the day with a group of EOD technicians at Camp Pendleton.
When James first arrived he was outfitted with Marine Corps desert utilities, and after a few laps in the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected truck, they gave him a mission.
James moved a fake IED to a safe location using a bomb dismantling robot with clear skill and precision, officials said in a release.
“This is the area he was really focused on and now he has an inside perspective,” James' father said on Saturday. “I think this is going to drive him more towards what he really wants to do in life.”
After his training, the Marines presented James with his own EOD badge.
“The experience was incredible, he has an amazing family and just seems like an awesome kid,” said Staff Sgt. Kacie Worley, an EOD team leader, in a news release. “I hope he had a great time and we were able to show him what we do.”
James has a tough fight ahead of him, but no Marine has ever sought the easy life - and “Once a Marine, Always a Marine.”