Many kids want to be a soldier when they grow up. Michael Kelsey, an 11-year-old from Marshfield, Missouri, is one of them.
But he's a little different since he suffers from a brain tumor.
But recently, Kelsey got to live his dream for one action-packed day.
According to a release from Fort Leonard Wood, Kelsey has not allowed his health problem to keep him from trying to support who he views as real heroes. Kelsey collected various toiletry items to donate to troops. When his mother contacted the local USO to arrange the donation, the topic turned to the 11-year-old's health.
The Fort Leonard Wood USO then moved to make the sick child's dream come true. Soon, Kelsey was invited to the installation, which not only conducts Basic Combat Training for new soldiers, but which also hosts the United States Army Maneuver Support Center of Excellence. He arrived under the notion that he would be dropping off the items he had collected; however, once there, he was surprised.
Eleven year-old Michael Kelsey becomes a soldier for a day on Fort Leonard Wood. (Photo Credit: Dawn M Arden, Fort Leonard Wood)
Drill sergeants from C Company, 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, issued Kelsey a uniform in the Operational Camouflage Pattern. Kelsey then got rides in military vehicles, drilled with troops, and, after a meal in the dining facility, met Brig. Gen. James Bonner, commandant of the Army Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear School.
Kelsey visited a number of units at the installation, receiving goodie bags and learning soldier skills at each visit. Col. Tracy Lanier, the base commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Tyson Gooslby, though, provided the capstone event, naming the 11-year-old to the Honorable Order of "The Rough Riders" to salute his courage. Michael Kelsey is only the 11th individual to receive this honor.
"Thank you to all of the soldiers who helped make this happen," Kelsey said. "Today was the best day of my life."
While his future is uncertain due to the tumor, it is safe to say that for a day, the Army managed to win a fight against that medical condition.