12-year-old becomes the youngest EOD Marine

Nathan Aldaco is twelve years old and suffers from hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare defect. Because his biggest wish in life is to become a United States Marine, the Marines from the 7th Engineer Support Battalion at Camp Pendleton were happy to oblige him.

Nathan Aldaco, a 12 year-old boy with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, walks with Marines to a demolition site during a Make-A-Wish event supported by 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 24, 2016. Marines with 7th ESB and Explosive Ordnance Disposal helped to make Nathan’s wish of becoming a Marine come true by demonstrating the capabilities of their EOD robots and detonating TNT, C4, dynamite and blasting caps, while the heavy equipment operators gave him the opportunity to ride the D7 dozer and the excavator, in which he dug a pit, built a berm, and broke several large tree trunks. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Laura Gauna/released)

Nathan Aldaco, a 12 year-old boy with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, walks with Marines to a demolition site during a Make-A-Wish event supported by 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Laura Gauna)

“It’s a true honor to do this for Nathan,” said 1st Lt. Ernesto Gaudio, 2nd platoon commander, Bravo Company, 7th ESB, 1st MLG. “We wanted to make him feel like he was a part of the Marine family. We are in service to the United States of America and Nathan is a citizen of the United States. We were just making his wish come true.”

The Marines decked Aldaco in his own MARPAT Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform and gave his family a tour of the explosives ordnance disposal site at Pendleton. He was taken through a demolition range in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. The team demonstrated their EOD robots and then detonated TNT, C4, dynamite, and blasting caps. The youngest Marine even shared MREs with his fellow Marines while out in the field.

160411-M-KO203-571

Nathan Aldaco, a 12 year-old boy with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, looks out of a bunker during a Make-A-Wish event supported by 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Laura Gauna)

“The bombs were cool,”  Aldaco said in an interview with the Marines’ official website. “I like working with robots. It was fun controlling them and picking stuff up with them.”

He was awarded the Master EOD badge in an official ceremony by Col. Jaime O. Collazo. It is the highest badge an EOD Marine can receive. Aldaco saluted the colonel before marching off.

160411-M-KO203-071

Nathan Aldaco, a 12 year-old boy with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and his family, pose for a picture with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines during a Make-A-Wish event. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Laura Gauna)