19-year-old Miles Avery always dreamed of becoming an American Soldier. However, a diagnosis of leukemia during high school has kept him from achieving this dream. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Avery was able to have a one-of-a-kind Army experience and become a Soldier for a day. Fittingly, this took place at the National Museum of the United States Army and coincided with the U.S. Army Birthday Festival.
Although Avery's health kept him from joining the Army, he demonstrates the Army value of personal courage in his fight against leukemia. "Miles has always been one of those kids who doesn’t complain about what he’s going through," his mother, Deborah, told Army Public Affairs. "He just puts his head down and struggles through it. Because of all that he’s gone through, and is still going through, I think it’s been really meaningful for him to have this opportunity."
Prior to the Army Birthday Festival, the Avery Family received a tour of the Pentagon hosted by the Office of the Chief of Army Reserve at the Pentagon. The tour was led by U.S. Army Old Guard tour guide Spc. Zane Flake who guided the family. Avery got to meet Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, Chief of Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command, and received a challenge coin from her.
On June 10, 2023, Avery attended the Army Birthday Festival which included displays and demonstrations of Army vehicles and equipment. He also got to watch the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute Team jump into the event and met with them afterwards. During the festival, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. James McConville and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael Grinston presided over an honorary promotion ceremony to make Avery a Soldier for a day. "We’re going to make Miles an honorary Soldier because he has proven that he knows how to overcome obstacles and never quit," Gen. McConville said at the ceremony. Avery received the rank of sergeant.
From presentations by the U.S. Army Band "Pershing’s Own" and the U.S. Army Drill Team to demonstrations by military working dogs and the Black Knights, Avery's Army experience was one-of-a-kind. "I was just expecting to maybe meet someone from the military for an afternoon," Avery told Army Public Affairs. "Now it’s turned into an entire trip to D.C., which I’m so grateful for." His leukemia is now in remission and Avery continues to fight with the strength and bravery of the Soldiers that he admires.