News: Keep On fighting
Story by Capt. Michael Meyer
MARYSVILLE, Wash. - Owain Weinert, 10, the acting “Command Sergeant Major” for the day, visits the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment in Marysville, Wash., as part of a tour sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Acting “Command Sergeant Major” Owain Weinert, 10, toured the Marysville Armed Forces Reserve Center April 20, and discussed training, equipment, and retention with members of the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and the 7th Battalion, Army Reserve Careers Division.
Owain, a resident of the Ballard neighborhood in Seattle, was a special guest of the U.S. Army Reserve as part of tour sponsored by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Two years ago, Owain learned he has a life-threatening illness, acute lymphocytic leukemia. He often experiences side effects and nausea from chemotherapy. Despite the difficulties, Owain soldiers on each day by attending school at Loyal Heights Elementary School whenever possible, and by providing inspiration to everyone he meets.
Owain had no difficulty assuming the role of “Command Sergeant Major” for the day, and asked detailed questions about military life. Owain even fired some simulated rounds “downrange” on the Engagement Skills Trainer 2000, with Sgt. 1st Class David Weaver of the 477th Transportation Company. Owain fired an M9 pistol, an M4-A4 rifle and the M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon at a projection screen that displayed enemy troops advancing on his position.
“I prefer that one,” Owain said pointing to the M-249 SAW. “But it's way too heavy for me to carry around.”
Lt. Col. David Baker, chief of staff of the 364th ESC (Rear), described military customs and courtesies, such as when to salute and when to wear a patrol cap. Baker then quizzed Owain on his knowledge of military rank insignia. Owain was spot-on; he had definitely done his homework for this trip.
Master Sgt. Wallace Koehmstedt described the use of various military vehicles and answered Owain's questions about vehicle armament, logistics missions, and fuel requirements.
“He’s a very smart kid, and he’s as mature as some of the soldiers I have,” Koehmstedt said with a smile. “He has a lot of enthusiasm and energy despite everything he is going through.”
When not asking questions about the military, Owain enthusiastically described how he assisted in the design of a free video game called “Allied Star Police” that is available for download on mobile devices. Owain also said that he maintains his own blog called “Owain's Army” on crushkidscancer.org.
Owain’s family and friends are participating in the 200-mile Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic on July 9 in an effort to raise public awareness of children's cancers.
“I am so amazed and I'm just totally overwhelmed,” Owain said as he received the 364th ESC commander's coin.
“Thanks so much; this has been very interesting and a lot of fun,” he added.
At the conclusion of the tour, Owain signed autographs for all the troops that he’d met, with “Keep on Fighting” printed neatly on the back.
“It always gives me a good feeling when kids visit and want to see what the Army is all about,” said Koehmsted. After a pause, he added, “The public is very good at letting us know that they care about soldiers, it’s times like this that we get the chance to let them know that we care about them too.”