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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Marine for a Day: Camp Pendleton teams up with Make-A-Wish Foundation to make child’s wish come true

By Cpl. Jovane M. Henry | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | August 10, 2012

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Jorge Solis, 5, runs off an amphibious assault vehicle after taking a ride at 3rd Assault Amphious Battalion during his base tour Aug. 10.

Jorge Solis, 5, runs off an amphibious assault vehicle after taking a ride at 3rd Assault Amphious Battalion during his base tour Aug. 10. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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Capt. Benjamin Guardenier, an operations officer at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, shows Jorge Solis, 5, the ins and outs of a Cobra helicopter during his visit to the base, Aug 10.

Capt. Benjamin Guardenier, an operations officer at Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, shows Jorge Solis, 5, the ins and outs of a Cobra helicopter during his visit to the base, Aug 10. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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Jorge Solis, 5, poses with Stephanie McCormick, chief executive officer at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of  Orange County and the Inland Empire during his base visit, Aug. 10. McCormick was one of seevral Make-A-Wish representatives to attend the tour.

Jorge Solis, 5, poses with Stephanie McCormick, chief executive officer at the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire during his base visit, Aug. 10. McCormick was one of seevral Make-A-Wish representatives to attend the tour. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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Jrge Solis, 5, sits on top of an amphibious assault vehicle as 1st Lt. Nishan Campbell, the operations officer for 3rd Assault Amphibious Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force, looks on. The unit was one of several Solis visited throughout the day.

Jrge Solis, 5, sits on top of an amphibious assault vehicle as 1st Lt. Nishan Campbell, the operations officer for 3rd Assault Amphibious Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force, looks on. The unit was one of several Solis visited throughout the day. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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Jorge Solis, 5, poses with his family after eating lunch at the 24 Area chow hall during his "Marine for a day" tour, Aug. 10. Solis' family particpated in every aspect of the tour with him, from shooting rifles at the Individual Simulated Marksmanship Trainer to riding in amphibious assault vehicles.

Jorge Solis, 5, poses with his family after eating lunch at the 24 Area chow hall during his "Marine for a day" tour, Aug. 10. Solis' family particpated in every aspect of the tour with him, from shooting rifles at the Individual Simulated Marksmanship Trainer to riding in amphibious assault vehicles. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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Jorge Solis, 5, watches amphibious assault vehicles from the shore during a demonstration in his honor, Aug. 10. During his visit to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, Jorge and his brothers climbed on AAVs and even got a ride down the street on one.

Jorge Solis, 5, watches amphibious assault vehicles from the shore during a demonstration in his honor, Aug. 10. During his visit to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, Jorge and his brothers climbed on AAVs and even got a ride down the street on one. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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Jorge Solis, 5, shows Officer Benjamin Maple, kennel master at the K-9 kennels here, the challenge coins he's recieved throughout his tour of the base, Aug. 10. Solis, who has retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer, wished to be a Marine for a day.

Jorge Solis, 5, shows Officer Benjamin Maple, kennel master at the K-9 kennels here, the challenge coins he's recieved throughout his tour of the base, Aug. 10. Solis, who has retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer, wished to be a Marine for a day. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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Sgt. Daniel Mullis, a formal marksmanship training course instructor at the Individual Simulated Marksmanship Trainer here, pins an expert badge on Jorge Solis, 5, who visited the base as a wish child with the Make-A- Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire. Solis, Jorge, who suffers from retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, experienced the base with his parents and three brothers.

Sgt. Daniel Mullis, a formal marksmanship training course instructor at the Individual Simulated Marksmanship Trainer here, pins an expert badge on Jorge Solis, 5, who visited the base as a wish child with the Make-A- Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire. Solis, Jorge, who suffers from retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, experienced the base with his parents and three brothers. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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Jorge Solis, 5, gets a rifle shooting lesson from Sgt. Daniel Mullis, a formal marksmanship training course instructor at the Individual Simulated Marksmanship Trainer here, Aug. 10. Solis, who suffers from retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, got the chance to live his dream when the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire partnered with Camp Pendleton to conduct a hands-on tour for Jorge and his family, Aug. 10. Stops along his tour included Amphibious Assault Battalion and the Explosive Ordinance and Mechanized Museums.

Jorge Solis, 5, gets a rifle shooting lesson from Sgt. Daniel Mullis, a formal marksmanship training course instructor at the Individual Simulated Marksmanship Trainer here, Aug. 10. Solis, who suffers from retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, got the chance to live his dream when the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire partnered with Camp Pendleton to conduct a hands-on tour for Jorge and his family, Aug. 10. Stops along his tour included Amphibious Assault Battalion and the Explosive Ordinance and Mechanized Museums. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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Jorge Solis, 5, shakes hands with Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations-West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, after being promoted to general at the South Mesa Club, Aug. 10. Solis, who suffers from retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, got the chance to live his dream of being a Marine for a day when the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire partnered with Camp Pendleton to conduct a hands-on tour for Jorge and his family.

Jorge Solis, 5, shakes hands with Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations-West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, after being promoted to general at the South Mesa Club, Aug. 10. Solis, who suffers from retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, got the chance to live his dream of being a Marine for a day when the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire partnered with Camp Pendleton to conduct a hands-on tour for Jorge and his family. (Photo by Cpl. Jovane M. Henry)


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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- At only 5 years old, Jorge Solis has dreamed of becoming a Marine for more than half his life.

Jorge, who suffers from retinoblastoma, a rare type of eye cancer, got the chance to live his dream when the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire partnered with Camp Pendleton to conduct a hands-on tour for Jorge and his family, Aug. 10.

Dressed in a tan Marine Corps camouflage uniform complete with cover, backpack, tan boots and a blue button identifying him as a Make-A-Wish child, Jorge looked the part when he arrived at the main gate in a white limousine with his parents and three brothers, who all wore Marine Corps t-shirts.

“This is a dream come true for Jorge, and we’re so glad to be here,” said Carmen Reyes, Jorge’s mother. “He’s loved the military since he was 2 years old- playing soldiers, yelling ‘move out, move out’ at his brothers, watching all the Rambo movies- it’s just in his blood.”

Jorge’s family was accompanied by several representatives from the Orange County and Inland Empire Make-A-Wish offices, including chief executive officer Stephanie McCormick, Jorge’s wish coordinator Michelle Cuellar, and chairman of the board Michael Rapacz.

Jorge’s first stop was the South Mesa Club, where he was greeted by Brig. Gen. Vincent A. Coglianese, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations-West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and Sgt. Maj. Derrick Christovale, Marine Corps Installations-West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton sergeant major.

During the meeting, Coglianese and Christovale presented Jorge with a duffel bag of Marine Corps goodies, promoted him to general, and taught him how to march and salute.

 “I only have one order for you Jorge,” said Coglianese, saluting the new young general as the meeting ended. “Have a good time.”

“Yes, sir,” said Jorge, saluting.

Throughout the day, Jorge and his family participated in various activities across the base: riding amphibious assault vehicles, shooting rifles and pistols at the Individual Simulated Marksmanship Trainer, learning a boxing lesson from instructors at the new Marine Corps Martial Arts Program dojo, eating lunch with Coglianese at the 24 Area chow hall, flying the helicopter simulator on Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, controlling an explosive ordinance disposal robot at the EOD Museum, taking photos in vintage military vehicles at the Mechanized Museum and watching a demo and petting the dogs at the K-9 kennels.

At every location he was saluted and presented coins, badges and other gifts from the Marines.

Seeing Jorge’s wish granted touched not only the family, but the Marines he came into contact with throughout the day as well.

While waiting in line at the chow hall for a cheeseburger, he was approached by a Marine who offered him a handshake and his boot bands so he could blouse his boots.

 “He’s just a brave little guy, full of life and energy,” said Sgt. Daniel Mullis, a formal marksmanship training course instructor at the ISMT. “We really enjoyed having him here with us today.”

At the end of the day, Jorge settled back into the limo with his family for the ride home, arms full of coins, stickers and t-shirts, an ear-to-ear smile still plastered across his face.

“I’ve had a lot of fun today,” said Jorge. “I like playing Marines with my brothers, and we liked all the things we got to do.”

In the end, it is that smile that lets everyone know the mission was accomplished, said McCormick.

“Never underestimate the smile of a wish child,” said McCormick. That’s what it is all about. Jorge will remember this day for the rest of his life, and his smile today has transformed all our lives.”

Imagebase tour ImageBGen Vincent Coglianese ImageBrian Tuftie ImageCamp Pendleton ImageCarmen Reyes ImageMake-A-Wish Foundation of Orange County and the Inland Empire ImageMarines ImageMichelle Cuellar Imageretinoblastoma ImageSgtMaj Jorge Solis ImageStephanie McCormick

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