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Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

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Andrew's Story - MAG-12 lifts 11-year-old boy's spirit

By | Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni | August 14, 2002

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The "Marine Corps family" is a term that has been used through the years, as it is used with any institution, to describe its camaraderie and unity of purpose.  Over time, however, such endearments become just that, words and phrases whose meanings don't quite embody the grandeur of the ideal it once embodied. 

The Marines and Sailors of Marine Aircraft Group 12 recently challenged this phenomenon firsthand, and made an immeasurable impact in the life of one member of that family.

In early February of 2002, Col. John DeWitt, then commanding officer of MAG-12, received a letter  from Marine aviator Maj. Kent Carpenter, a former Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212 pilot. 

The letter was simple and read to the following effect - Carpenter's nephew, Andrew Carpenter, had very early in his life been diagnosed with leukemia. 

After several difficult bouts with the disease, 11-year-old Andrew once again found himself in the hospital, this time awaiting a bone marrow transplant from the only available donor, his youngest sister.

The letter was an appeal to the pilot's former squadron to send a fighter picture or something of the sort to Andrew, as fighter jet's were Andrew's passion and the one thing Carpenter was sure would encourage his nephew. 

DeWitt in turn appealed to the MAG-12 community and the response was overwhelming.  Not only did the pilots provide signed pictures with words of encouragement, but the Marines and Sailors of MAG-12 pitched in with squadron T-shirts, fighter memorabilia, and letters of encouragement. 

"The amount of generosity and respect that this one letter inspired  was really remarkable," said Maj. Jeffery Staman, MAG-12 Headquarters commanding officer.  "It was truly amazing to see the true spirit of Honor, Courage, and Commitment come out of such a strong cast of Marines and Sailors.  This is what the Marine Corps family is all about."

Andrew Carpenter would agree.  In late June of 2002, various members of MAG-12 received a letter and a picture from Andy saying,  "Thanks ... I think my Uncle Kent has the greatest friends in the Marines!  You guys are the best!" 

Now at home in his own bed, he can look at all his pictures, read his letters, and dream like every other kid, because he knows his family is behind him.


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