An Injured Soldier’s Dream

At times Operation Once in a Lifetime has been compared to a Make-A-Wish foundation by helping soldiers and their families participate in “Once in a Lifetime” events and activities. We have taken thousands of soldiers to professional NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL games across the country as well as to restaurants and events that they may not have been able to go otherwise. We recently received a very unique request from a sincere and genuine soldier and we are hoping that you can help us make his dream happen.

The soldier’s name is Spc. John Vandyke and he was injured in Iraq in 2005 by a 25mm round exploding near his hands and his face. His wish since he was a little kid has always been to see the space shuttle launch. He even has a tattoo of the space shuttle on his leg. Below is part of an email that he sent us….

“When I was a boy and teenager, I dreamt of space. I think my interest began when my father recounted his memories of watching the first moon landing on a black and white television with his father. Ever since my youth I always believed that one day I would witness something so remarkable.

The first job I ever had I was a paperboy and there would usually be a paper or two left over that I could read for myself. I would scour the contents of the paper searching for anything related with NASA or space. I kept all my clippings in an old brief case my father once gave to me. As I got older I still held a keen interest in the space program. I would sometimes catch a shuttle launch on T.V.

The world stood still for me early in February 2003 when working a midnight shift stocking shelves in the electronics department at a K-mart store, I watched Space Shuttle Columbia break apart on re-entry. Not only was I horrified but the image was on about forty T.V. sets which multiplied the tragedy for me. That night I promised myself I would one day go down to Cape Canaveral and be present for a shuttle launch.

I entered the army in 2004 which brought me a lot closer to Florida than where I came from (Chicago), but I was never able to make it. I was injured in Iraq in 2005 and it took me about a year to recover. After deciding to turn down my first medboard I redeployed to Iraq during ’06/’07. After my second tour the Army med boarded me and I again never had the opportunity. I have been counting down the missions for the past several months and one road bump or another has kept me from being able to plan a trip. Being present for the final space shuttle launch will be a memory that I and hopefully my children will cherish for the rest of our lives and I pray and hope I could be selected for this trip.”

The last space shuttle launch (supposedly ever, as the Endeavor was just retired and July 8th will be the last time Atlantis will be launched) is next month. We are working on getting flights for him and his family (2 kids and wife), hotel rooms and transportation to and from the launch. Our target goal is $2500.00 to help make this dream come true.

You can contribute to this soldier’s wish by donating today. Any amount, big or small, will make a difference. Let’s not do this because he was injured while serving our country, but simply because he served.

Thank you for your generous and caring hearts! OOIAL is able to care for our servicemen because of each of YOU.

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