CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (12/20/2012) – “Every citizen should be a
soldier.” – Thomas Jefferson
However, for some citizens the
process to serve one's country is not always simple. For some
citizens, there are battles within their own lives, within their own
bodies, that prevent enlistment. For some citizens, like 10-year old
Khalil Quarles, a dream of serving in the United States military is
just that; a dream. And, yet sometimes that is all you need.
Khalil Quarles, 10, raises his right hand during his honorary
enlistment into the Army Reserve as his father, Damon, watches the
ceremony held in Baltimore, MD on December 19, 2012. Maj. Gen
Sanford Holman, 200th Military Police Command's commanding general
read the special Oath of Enlistment for Quarles who suffers from a
rare form of cancer that affects less than one percent of all people
who have been diagnosed cancer. Photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark
Quarles suffers from a terminal cancer. So when the
Baltimore resident, who is currently an outpatient of
Gilchrist Hospice Center, was asked what he wanted for
Christmas, he asked for something he had wanted for years:
to meet a U.S. Army soldier.
“I heard through
friends at the hospice that he loved the military, and they
wanted to know if I could Skype with him,” said Maj. Norland
James, a chief of medical logistics (FWD) for Third
Army/ARCENT serving in Kuwait.
The Albany, Ga.,
native, with the assistance of other soldiers, began to
formulate a plan of action to not only allow Quarles to meet
him, but to “enlist” the 10-year old in the U.S. Army.
“It was important to me to make his dream come true, so
I agreed, but I wanted to make the moment bigger than a call
or a picture, so I contacted soldiers in Maryland.”
Word of Quarles and his story spread throughout Fort Meade,
sparking community outreach from soldiers and civilians.
Over several days, people volunteered, military vehicles
were reserved and Christmas presents were bought. The plan
of action had become a mission, known simply as “Operation
On Dec. 19, Quarles entered the
kitchen at his Maryland home and was greeted by James via
Skype (a proprietary voice over internet protocol service
and software application).
“I could see in his eyes
this was an ‘I can't believe this is happening' kind of
moment,” said James. “It felt great, knowing that I was
helping fulfill this moment for him.”
The two of
them, both in uniform, spoke for 10 minutes about their love
for the Army before James presented Quarles with an Army
Certificate of Appreciation. However, prior to hanging up,
James asked Quarles if he could walk outside to meet some of
Beyond his front door, Quarles was
greeted by over 40 Army Reserve soldiers, including Maj.
Gen. Sanford Holman, commanding officer of the 200th
Military Police Command. His family, friends and neighbors
stood – some clapping, some crying – together on the front
lawn. In his driveway sat a High Mobility Multipurpose
Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV).
“I met some of your
teachers and your principal and they said you are a great
young man. It sounds like you are living the Army values,
which all of our soldiers live by,” said Holman, speaking
with Quarles. “Through your fight against cancer, we
consider you a great warrior.”
After the singing of
the national anthem and an invocation, Quarles, along with
his family were asked to stand. Resting on his crutches,
Quarles, standing in front of a U.S. flag, raised his right
hand and repeated the U.S. Armed Forces Oath of Enlistment.
Sanford, and members of the 200th MPCOM celebrated
his “enlistment” with military memorabilia and a ride in the
Upon his return, soldiers surprised Quarles
and his younger brother and sister with Christmas presents.
As Quarles sat on the front of the HMMWV, holding a
miniature U.S. flag, a local reporter asked him how it felt
to be a member of the U.S. Army. He didn't say anything. He
By Army Spc. Alexander Neely
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