Timothy Rhodes, an 18-year-old from Edinburg, Va., lived out a dream in Beaufort County over the last couple of days, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the US Marine Corps.
Rhodes suffers from cystic fibrosis and cannot enlist. But he’s always wanted to be a Marine, and on Feb. 25 and 26, he came pretty close.
Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort teamed up with Make-A-Wish to help Rhodes experience life as a Marine recruit and an Air Station Marine, complete with training demos, meetings with Marines and a graduation ceremony.
“Being a Marine has always been what I want to do with my life,” Rhodes said in a letter to Make-A-Wish in February. “I want to be a Marine for a couple of days to, in some little way give my services to my country and pay respect to soldiers that have gone before me and many that will go after me.”
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Rhodes arrived first, as all recruits do, at Parris Island’s famous yellow footprints. From there he learned about martial arts, the daunting obstacles of the Confidence Course, water survival, rappelling and marksmanship. He also watched attack dogs aboard MCAS Beaufort take down their trainers and spoke with Marines face to face about life aboard the air station.
His experience concluded with a Friday morning colors ceremony and graduation, a meaningful, if short-circuited version of the same journey thousands of men and women make from recruit to Marine every 13 weeks.
“This is something we will never forget in our life,” Rhodes’ mother, Tracy Barb, said. “I just can’t express how grateful I am to everybody here and to Make-A-Wish for making this happen.”