NEWS | Aug. 1, 2019

Soldiers Help Make Young Man's Wish Come True

By Spc. Valencia McNeal

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- At times, remembering what it's like to be a kid can be great. For others, not so much.

Many children around the world, including Alexander Hipp, suffer with a critical illness. They are unable to have a care-free childhood, taking away the very foundation of what it's like to be a kid.

Even though Hipp lived with an illness for most of his life, he dreamed to one day visit Hawaii and be immersed in all things military. Known by his family to be timid, Hipp brimmed with excitement and joy thanks to the 25th Infantry Division and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The 25th Inf. Div. hosted Hipp, a Make-A-Wish recipient, and his family during a visit to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, as part of his wish to tour historic sites related to WWII and military installations.

"Just being here on the military installation was amazing," said Hipp. "I'll never forget it. Everything that happened here was just a dream come true."

Hipp dreams of being in the military himself one day, and with the help of leaders from the 25th Inf. Div., he was granted his wish and more as they made him an honorary "Tropic Lightning" Soldier.

During his trip to Hawaii, he visited the Tropic Lightning Museum, participated in an M-4 semi-automatic rifle engagement skills trainer (EST), flew in three military flight simulators, and ended the day with an aerial tour of Oahu in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Farrell, a pilot assigned to 3rd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, recognized the significance in making an impact on the community.

"Doing Make-A-Wish is an excellent opportunity for us to give back to our communities while being accessible and giving opportunities for those individuals to take part in what we do," explained Farrell.

Before visiting Hawaii, Hipp's dream seemed unreachable. In early childhood, he was diagnosed with Chronic Granulomatous Disease. The disease he suffered with significantly lowered his ability to fight off bacterial and fungal infections. Like his younger brother, also diagnosed with CGD, successful treatment options were limited.

Most children with CGD have a low chance living beyond the age of 20 years, Hipp said.

However, doctors recently determined that a bone marrow transplant would help patients diagnosed with CGD. After his younger brother successfully underwent the transplant surgery, Hipp did as well.

"There was a rather decent chance that I might not make it through it," said Hipp. "The whole experience was not fun. You're sick for a long time and completely drained of energy."

Thankfully for Hipp, the transplant was a success and he is now completely cured.

With the help of the 25th Infantry Division, a lifetime memory was made for Hipp and for Stephen Hipp, his father, who had nothing but overwhelming happiness for his son.

"As his father, it made me feel a great sense of joy today," said Stephen.