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Soldier for a day
Triplegic teen tours Fort Irwin, gets honorary promotion
FORT IRWIN • By the time 14-year-old Adam Wolf left his 6 1/2-hour tour of the National Training Center on Tuesday, he had already made it to the second-highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Army.
The middle-schooler suffers from cerebral palsy and is triplegic, with no use of three limbs but full use of his right arm, and he rides around in a wheelchair. He dreams of becoming a soldier, which Fort Irwin made possible for the day.
Adam was promoted to honorary Command Sgt. Major by the end of the day.
“It’s great to see a young man with a desire to serve his country and families who are teaching their children of that importance,” said Fort Irwin Garrison Commander Col. Kurt Pinkerton as he had lunch with the family in an Army dining hall.
Shortly thereafter, both Pinkerton and Command Sgt. Major Dale Perez were on the ground doing one-handed push-ups next to the teen.
Adam is a quadruplet, and he toured the base with his three siblings, parents and grandparents. His grandfather, an 84-year-old Korean War veteran, said being at the base was also on his bucket list. The Fort Irwin NTC did not exist when he was a soldier, he said.
“He’s very determined,” said Adam’s father Rob Wolf about his son, as Adam zipped around in his wheelchair during a tour of a mock Afghani village.
The village, called Ertabat Shar, is used for training rotating military units for combat and is one of the components that makes the installation unique.
“Can we live here?” asked Adam as he marveled at the Middle Eastern-style buildings.
The teen was also hoisted into the passenger seat of two separate military vehicles and an Army helicopter by soldiers of the 916th Support Brigade. Later he was given “G3 training” and was taught to shoot an Army rifle at simulated targets on a large projector screen, similar to a life-sized videogame.
When asked where his son’s deep interest in the military originated, Rob Wolf said that since he was little Adam always expressed an interest in service-related occupations.
“It was always firemen, policemen or serving, helping others,” Wolf said. “I guess which he takes from a personal perspective because he knows how much he needs help. He sees that firsthand so he’d like to be able to do that for other people.”
Adam’s mother, Ali Wolf, said their day at Fort Irwin was a wish her son has held for about seven years. The family lives in Irvine, and each time they would drive to Las Vegas to visit their relatives Adam would see the Fort Irwin sign off Interstate 15 and tell his parents he wanted to visit.
“It’s even more amazing than we could have ever imagined,” Ali Wolf said about their experience at the base.
Adam’s wish was supported by the Fort Irwin Commanding General Theodore Martin, who greeted him and held mini promotion ceremonies at the beginning and end of the complimentary tour.
One soldier in particular, Sgt. Brittney Barrios-Oliver, was also instrumental in setting up the tour because she and Adam are pen pals. They met by chance in an elevator and Adam thanked her for her service as a soldier.
From there, they kept in contact, with the family sending her regular care packages after she deployed to Afghanistan.
“He loves her like a big sister,” Ali Wolf said.
Contact the writer: BSelf@DesertDispatch.com or 760-256-4123.