Boot camp graduation should be a time of celebration. The transition from recruit to Marine is one that both new Marines and their family members/loved ones can, and should, take great pride in. This is especially true when the new Marine is the son of a Marine as well. And that's what makes this story so heartbreaking.
At 7:30 am on Monday, January 2, 2015, we received a call about Lance, a Marine dying of renal failure whose son, Dakota, was scheduled to graduate from boot camp at Parris Island on January 9. With his days numbered, Lance made seeing Dakota graduate from boot camp his reason to live, and his doctors and nurses wanted to make sure he was able to witness this momentous occasion.
Initially, Lance's doctors and nurses wanted him to attend his son's graduation in person, and they raised $400 to help him do so. However, it was decided that traveling in his current condition was not an option for Lance, so they called us to see what we could do to help.
Upon receiving the call, our staff got to work and did everything in our power to ensure this Marine could see his son graduate. We determined that the best course of action would be to get someone to attend graduation to allow Lance and his family to view the graduation via Skype, and the $400 raised by the nurses and doctors went toward making graduation shirts for the family.
"When our staff heard Lance's story, we knew we had to help" Marine Parents Founder and Executive Director Tracy Della Vecchia said. "It was clear how important it was for Lance to see Dakota graduate, and we wanted to help make that happen."
On graduation day, Lance's room was covered in red, and more than 30 people were present to watch the graduation and enjoy a buffet that had been set up specially for the ceremony. After the ceremony, our volunteer that taped the graduation made sure that Lance was able to Skype with his son, new Marine Dakota. Dakota has since been able to return home and spend time with his father, who, miraculously, is still hanging on.
It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that Lance passed away Monday, January 26, 2015. He was surrounded by his family and passed peacefully at his home in New York. Lance was 45 years old.