North Carolina Youth’s Wish Comes True With Pentagon Visit


By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chuck Broadway DoD News, Defense Media Activity

A North Carolina teenager had his wish come true today with a visit to the Pentagon that included meeting several Defense Department leaders.

In addition to walking the Pentagon’s halls during a visit made possible by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Cooper Smith, 16, met with Defense Secretary James N. Mattis; Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson; Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and senior enlisted advisors from all branches of the military.

Smith lives with neurofibromatosis type 1, a multisystem genetic disorder characterized by changes in skin coloring and the growth of tumors along nerves in the skin, brain and other parts of the body.

“The people I met were fantastic and seemed to really care about the country,” Smith said. “I wanted to see how the Pentagon works and see how each single factor plays into each other. I thought things would be more independent, but I saw how each [service branch] relies on each other.”

Admiration for Service Members

His admiration for the military comes from his recognition of the service and sacrifice of the nation’s men and women in uniform, he said.

Though he cannot serve as a military member, Smith said, he feels it is his civic duty to make his community a better place. He volunteers at several organizations…

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