Becoming a US Army Ranger is one of the hardest things a person can do. But Master Sergeant Alexander Barnett, who can march miles a day wearing a 50-pound pack and do more than 50 pushups per minute, thinks wish kid Riley, 14, can teach him a few things about being tough.
Barnett met Riley when he asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to see how the Rangers train. The 16-year Army veteran was often awed by the teen diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as he ran him through drills at Camp James E. Rudder, where the Rangers tackle the swamp phase of their training.
“I was shocked that he asked to do this,” Barnett told reporters. “He’s a city boy. He could’ve asked to go to the Super Bowl.”
Riley returns from a helicopter mission.
Watching movies like Black Hawk Down and Band of Brothers inspired Riley to research the physically and mentally exhausting training Rangers endure. That led him to the 6th Ranger Training Battalion. The secluded camp houses Ranger trainees and instructors during the final phase of their training.
Fortunately, Riley didn’t have to arrive like the other students: by parachute.
But that doesn’t mean his hosts planned for him to be a spectator. They started slowly, seeing how he reacted to challenges like crawling in mud and crossing a rope bridge in frigid water. They wanted to give him a sense of accomplishment and see how he far he wanted to push himself.
“We pushed him to the limit, and he was awesome,” said Master Sergeant Jose Marengo. “That boy’s got nothing to prove. He’s tough.”
Marengo didn’t even deduct points when Riley decided not to rappel.
“That was too scary,” Riley told The Bayonet, a newspaper covering Ft. Benning. “I just couldn’t do it.”
During his training Riley also floated through a swamp on a Zodiac inflatable boat and watched as 64 Rangers parachuted from a C-130 airplane at night. He also did a practice jump from a mockup of a C-130.
On graduation day at Fort Benning, Riley’s mother pinned the Ranger tab to the custom uniform the Rangers gave him. He recited the Ranger creed from memory. And he did his best to keep his eyes dry…along with his mentor, Marengo.
“I wasn’t the only one,” Marengo insisted.
^^ paragraph above taken from the "make a wish foundation" website
i thought this was so cool that they did this.