Courageous Kidz visit Joint Base Charleston

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- For a high school senior with aspirations to join the Air Force Special Forces, the toughest battle he might ever face took place before he was even a teenager.

Jeremiah Treadway was diagnosed with stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Anaplastic Large-Celled Lymphoma when he was in fifth grade. Now in full remission, Jeremiah participates in various youth programs to prepare himself for a future of military service.

“I do JROTC at my high school and I’ve started wrestling to get more physically fit and to mentally prepare myself," said Jeremiah. "I’m also in Boy Scouts and, with my church group, I represent the youth on the board. It’s also really great to know people like Sergeant Bunce and my JROTC instructor. They help a lot.”

Master Sgt. Caroline Bunce, 628th Aerospace Medical Squadron dental hygienist, met Jeremiah and his brother Benjamin through her volunteer work with a program called Courageous Kidz. When she discovered their affinity for military service she was eager to help them out because of how well she felt they would adapt to the military lifestyle.

“Jeremiah’s dream is to join the Air Force," said Bunce. "When I heard that I was excited because I knew there was a flame I could help fan. He possesses the qualities we need in our force; smart, determined, compassionate.  I’ve seen him functioning with his JROTC unit and he is a truly humble and proud leader.”

Bunce discovered Jeremiah’s military ambitions while talking with him. Through the conversation Bunce realized how little exposure he had to the military and what it has to offer beyond combat.

“It thought it would be nice if we could give him a tour of the base and get him in a simulator to show him more about the Air Force and the options it has for him,” said Bunce. “Through our conversation, I discovered Jeremiah didn’t know much about any of the other career fields offered by the Air Force. He also didn’t realize how the Air Force could help him to build a skillset to help him with employment when he’s finished with the military.”

With his brother Benjamin by his side, just like he was while Jeremiah battled cancer, the brothers toured the Deily Dental Clinic to see an example of a career field many people don’t realize is even performed by service members. They then met with a panel consisting of an Airman, an NCO and an officer to discuss their different perspectives on the Air Force.

“I was excited about the whole visit,” said Jeremiah. “I wasn’t sure what I was going to learn. The more information I have the better it is going to benefit my future because of the experience you all have. I was a little nervous about the people I might meet but they were all very helpful and welcoming.”

Bunce contacted the 437th Maintenance Squadron commander while planning the tour to make the event as memorable as possible for Jeremiah and Benjamin and she said she appreciated how they were so willing to help.

 

“I didn’t make this happen alone,” said Bunce. “I want to thank everybody who made this possible. Every time I reached out for help, I got a yes. Everybody across the base, in particular, Lt. Col. Michael Coppola, was so willing to help us make this day as special as possible, and I couldn’t have done it without him.”

 

Following the panel, the boys were greeted by 1st Lt. Jordan Doorn, a 15th Airlift Squadron pilot, who escorted them to a flight simulator and allowed them each to pilot the aircraft.

“Getting to fly through mountains on the flight simulator was really cool,” said Jeremiah. “I got to go on a free flight and I flew through two mountains in Alaska.”

With battling cancer now in his past, Bunce hopes she can help guide Jeremiah on his journey into the Air Force.

“Since I was a freshman in high school I’ve wanted to be a Special Forces officer," said Jeremiah. "I’m going to do my best in striving for that. This tour introduced me to other people and jobs in the military. Those insights help me understand the military better and helps me better prepare myself for joining.”