SEATTLE – A group of soldiers, former sailors, vehicle
collectors and a pilot helped a young terminally ill boy's
wish come true here Aug. 2, 2013.
Carl Sullivan, 12,
of Mill Creek, Wash., has a form of leukemia. A lifelong
history and World War II buff, he traveled to Pearl Harbor
earlier this year to fulfill his wish of being a World War
II fighter pilot.
But he also wanted to experience
the maritime end of the military.
Sgt. 1st Class David George, right, an Army recruiter with the Seattle Recruiting Company, gives a hat to Carl Sullivan, 12, during Carl's wish day at Seafair,
Aug. 2, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Christopher Larsen)
It was during Seafair, the annual Seattle summer celebration
that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors during its run.
Sgt. 1st Class David George, a recruiter with the Seattle
Recruiting Company, helped arrange the day.
his family got an early-morning start at Kenmore Air Harbor,
an airport and floatplane base located at the northern tip
of Lake Washington. Passengers piled aboard a 1950s-era de
Havilland Beaver floatplane that was once operated by the
Army. Still painted in Army colors, the plane took off to
the south, heading for the Will Rogers-Wiley Post Memorial
Seaplane Base in Renton, Wash., at the south end of the
Waiting at the dock in Renton was another
classic piece of military equipment, a Vietnam War-era
Patrol Boat, River, or PBR. The boat was crewed by a group
of former Navy and Army service members who served in the
“Brown Water Navy” in Vietnam.
Led by retired Navy
Capt. Stephen Morrison, the local chapter of the Gamewardens
Association commemorates those who served in Task Force 116
in Vietnam. The group's restored PBR rumbled to life, its
twin 220-horsepower diesels moving it slowly out into the
“This is pretty awesome,” Carl said, as he sat
down at the boat's replica .50-caliber machine gun after
being presented with a Gamewardens beret, similar to ones
worn by the crew in Vietnam.
The PBR headed towards
the boat that would sail alongside during the voyage, the
U.S. Army small tug Mulberry, ST-914, skippered by Sgt. 1st
Class Victor Michaud, Jr., of the 709th Transportation
Company, a U.S. Army Reserve unit located in Tacoma, Wash.
Mulberry was on site during Seafair taking part in
patrols with the U.S. Coast Guard, part of a joint effort to
prevent accidents and promote safety.
aboard the PBR transferred to Mulberry for the trip to
Seattle's Stan Sayre Park, home base for the powerboats that
Upon arriving at Lakewood Marina,
Carl, his family and others were greeted by a fantastic
sight: seven World War II Jeeps, lined up to convoy to the
“This is like a dream come true,” Carl said.
“There's so much to learn about World War II and military
“It's always been fascinating to me,” he
The Jeeps came from members of the Puget Sound
chapter of the Military Vehicle Collector's Club, an
organization dedicated to restoring rare and vintage
military vehicles to their original condition.
would get to ride in a Jeep owned by Jay Ono, of Bellevue,
“My Jeep's painted and equipped just like my
grandpa's was in the war,” Ono said.
grandfather, a Hawaii native, was a member of the famed
442nd Regimental Combat Team, an infantry unit made up
entirely of Japanese-American soldiers.
in the back of the Jeep, taking his place behind the .50.
“This makes me feel large and in charge,” he said to a
television reporter who was covering the day's events.
The Jeep convoy made its way to the park, people along
the route waving, cars honking. Those watching weren't
exactly sure what was going on, but a line of 70-year-old
vehicles tends to get attention.
At the park, Carl
and his family were treated to a tour of the powerboat pits,
where boats capable of more than 200 miles per hour were
fueled, maintained, and placed by cranes into the water for
Carl even got to meet with some of the
powerboat drivers, including current national champion Steve
After lunch at the pits and watching the
powerboat time trials, the party made its way back to the
waiting convoy of Jeeps for the trip back to the marina. Jet
planes zoomed overhead as the day's air show got underway
and made a fitting setting for the group's departure.
Carl and his family once again climbed aboard the PBR.
Its fiberglass hull shuddered as the crew steered the boat
into the lake, once again linking up with the Army Reserve
With the PBR tied firmly alongside, the
tug's crew welcomed Carl and his party aboard. Michaud's
crew led the group on a tour of the tug, making their way
towards the bridge.
Gesturing to the captain's seat,
Michaud said to Carl, “Climb up there.”
Once Carl was
“in command” of the tug, Michaud gave him a rundown of the
instruments, navigation systems, and capabilities of the
tug. Carl beamed as Michaud told him how to steer the tug,
set a course, and the responsibilities of watching out for
other boats while on the lake or at sea.
afternoon wore on, Mulberry and its new “skipper” headed
back towards the floatplane base. Due to the shallow depth
near the shore, Carl and his family got ready to board the
PBR again, but not before being given a certificate by
Michaud to commemorate his voyage.
“This makes it
official,” Michaud said.
As the PBR tied up to the
dock, the Beaver floatplane was waiting. Once again, the
60-year-old aircraft would take to the skies, winging Carl
and his family home, and ending a day filled with surprises.
It was another example of how the Army, Army
Reserve, and Navy give back to the community – by helping
make a young boy's Seafair wish come true.
More photos available in frame below
By U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Larsen
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