ft drum

Anthony “A.J.” Plyter is getting a taste of the military life. The 16-year-old teen, who suffers from  Hodgkin’s lymphoma, got to ride in a Humvee, scale a rappelling wall, and sit in the cockpit of an Army helicopter.

“I was put through training and tests,” he said. “I was trained on how to camouflage myself, how to put a radio together and use it, and how to throw a grenade (which were rocks) and I passed them all.”

Thank to Make-A-Wish, the Williamson, NY teen was able to spend the day on Fort Drum.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “They made me feel like I had been doing it forever.”

Anthony had hoped to follow in the military footsteps of his father Mark and brother Joshua, who both serve in the Army, along with other relatives who have served in the Air Force and the Navy.

The experience took about eight months to coordinate. The day prior to his visit, A.J. was outfitted with a full uniform. His day on post began by being sworn in as an honorary soldier by the division’s acting senior commander, Brig. Gen. Paul Bontrager.

“It kind of made me feel like I was there on the first day of boot camp,” Anthony said.

A.J. received a helmet used by helicopter pilots from his fellow servicemembers.

Then it was off to Gen. Bontrager’s office, where A.J. was presented with patches and ceremonial coins as a remembrance of his special day.

A.J. said he was grateful for his day and for the soldiers he was able to meet.

“It shows I’ve got a lot of support,” he said.

In just a few days, on August 25th, A.J. will be taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the Army National Guard’s office in Rochester. There, he will see military planes, meet with Guard members and receive his own flight suit.