Story by Sgt. Nicholas Holmes
FORT MYER, Va. – Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) escorted Dream Foundation recipient, Brandon Martz and his family, on an intimate tour of the installation April 4, 2017 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia.
“This event was for the Dream Foundation and served to make Brandon Martz’s dream of visiting Washington D.C. and the Arlington National Cemetery come true,” said Maj. Mike Erlandson, executive officer and tour escort with 3d U.S. Inft. Regt.
The Dream Foundation provides end-of-life dreams to terminally-ill adults and their families.
In 2002, then 4 year old, Martz was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a fatal genetic disorder which results in progressive loss of strength. He was given the prognosis of ten years to live.
“My dream was to go to Washington D.C. over my senior year spring break with my family,” said Martz. “I want to be able to go to the Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the White House.”
Martz, a Rives Junction, Michigan, native and now 18 years old, was selected by the Dream Foundation to have his dream come true after sharing his story in a letter.
His first stop at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Martz participated in an Army Full Honors Wreath laying Ceremony. Martz and his family, viewed the changing of the guard from a restricted area which provided them with prime viewing.
“[Arlington National Cemetery] is a place of great respect and it was phenomenal to see him lay the wreath,” said Doug Martz, Brandon’s father. “That is something that most people don’t have an opportunity to do, and now he is part of the history here.”
Second on the tour, Martz and his family visited the Caisson Stables. While there, they fed and interacted with the horses while learning the mission of the Caisson Platoon, the stables historical significance and daily commitment to the care of the horses.
Martz and his father agreed that under different circumstances, the military would have been a career he would have likely pursued.
“I believe he would have followed a path into the military,” added Doug Martz. “It’s a passion he has always had.”
“If I did not have DMD I would have joined the military after I graduate,” said Martz. “I had a recruiter call the house the other day, and it was so hard to tell him I was now in a wheelchair. He was nice, but we both knew that was the end of the conversation.”
The tour concluded at Summerall Field, where the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps conducted a musical demonstration for the Martz family.
Following the demonstration, Col. Jason Garkey, Regimental Commander and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, discussed the important relationship and responsibilities the military has to the people. Afterwards they both presented Martz tokens of appreciation on behalf of The Old Guard to reinforce how honored the regiment was to be included in his request to the Dream Foundation.
This was the first time this year that every commander from the specialty platoons attend a tour of this magnitude. Outreach is a vital part of the regiments goal.
“It has been a great day,” said Brandon’s father. “It has been more of an emotional day then I expected.”
Both the family and Soldiers enjoyed the events of the day.
“This was by far the most rewarding tour I have participated in,” Erlandson said. “The entire organization put their best foot forward to honor this young man.”