Earning His Stripes
March 28, 2008
Recently, in a demonstration, dangerous “mock” terrorists infiltrated a heavily guarded Central Texas base. But one Soldier, was able to save the day and get the job done. That Soldier, SSG Gaven Cox, recently took a break from his fight with leukemia, to “Soldier up” with his 1st Cavalry Division teammates, to participate in the top-secret search and destroy mission. Through Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, Gaven was able to join Troop C, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, to defeat the bad guys.
Alongside his fellow comrades with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, he saddled up with the divisionâ€™s horse detachment, flew a virtual Apache helicopter combat flight over the Iraqi capital, and maneuvered on a Black Hawk â€“ all before lunch time. Gaven and his personal flight crew with Company C, 3rd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, took flight in search of the make-believed insurgents, which was the first half of his mission.
â€œThe pilot actually did some pretty hard banks,â€ Sgt. David Raines, a cavalry scout, said, who rode with the soon to be 6-year-old. â€œIâ€™ve done about 20 different rides in combat and none of them were ever like that.â€
Gaven’s mom, Melissa Heminger said that Gaven was diagnosed with leukemia in December 2007. She said that since he was three years old, he’s always been a Soldier, but has proven it even more in the past few months, since his diagnosis.
â€œI look at him everyday and heâ€™s fighting it,â€ Melissa said. â€œI know that there are days itâ€™s hard for him to just walk to the bathroom, but he just keeps going strong and keeps smiling. The things that children can overcome are amazing.â€
Gaven’s courageous fight with leukemia and his warrior spirit definitely impressed his fellow 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers as well. His determination, courage and guts are what being a Soldier is all about. He proved that not once, but many times over, during his time at Fort Hood.
â€œGavenâ€™s courageous story pretty much mirrors what were fighting for,â€ 1st Lt. Christopher Hall, the officer in charge the Make-A-Wish project, said. â€œWe go through a lot, but Gaven also has been through a lot. It shows what weâ€™re doing overseas, what we do everyday is worth while when you see the kind of strength in a kid like that - five years old and fighting as hard as we are.â€
After thwarting the enemy and riding in the Apache, Gaven’s day wasn’t quite complete. Later in the afternoon, he spent time at the Engagement Skills Trainer, where he was able to use a variety of military weapons to take out an antimated enemy. According to his fellow Soldiers, he got 6 confirmed kills. Gaven said that his favorite part of the day was being able to ride in a Humvee.
Once his mission was complete, Gaven proudly stood to receive his promotion to SSG and his official Cav Stetson. His stripes and stetson, he more than earned, as a handful of his fellow Soldiers stood at attention. You can see, from the look on his face in the photo that he was excited about his accomplishment, one that only took him about a week.