FORT HOOD – Deciding on a career can be a difficult decision some make very late in life, but for 9-year-old Neil Sawh of Houston, there’s nothing he wants more than to be a soldier.
The 1st Squadron, 7th “Garryowen” Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division gave Neil Sawh, a fourth-grader from Houston, the chance to be a cavalry soldier for a day Feb. 8.
Neil was diagnosed with a rare strain of muscular dystrophy at the age of 7 and he received the opportunity of a lifetime when his parents surprised him with a visit to Fort Hood.
“I told him, ‘you’re [going to] have to look out,’” said Nelini Sawh, Neil’s mother. “‘They’re going to be clues along the way. Let’s see if you can figure out where we’re going.’”
Nelini said as soon as Neil saw the sign for Fort Hood, he was excited and spoke at the top of his voice.
Neil said, “Fort Hood! We’re going to the Army base!”
Lt. Col. Jay Miseli, commander of Garryowen, said there was no better way to get Neil involved than to incorporate him into the already scheduled Garryowen Games.
“The bottom line is, we saw this as the perfect opportunity for Neil to see what soldiers do and experience it firsthand,” Miseli said.
Neil appeared to be very shy and quiet, but opened up while on the obstacle course.
“Let’s go, Apache,” Neil shouted.
Assisted by Miseli, Neil went alongside the soldiers of Garryowen’s Troop A, and cheered them on as the troop completed the course with the fastest time of 16 minutes, 57 seconds.
During a ceremony to recognize the winners of Garryowen Games, Miseli enlisted Neil into the military as an honorary member of Garryowen. Neil also received spurs, a Stetson, an Army Combat Uniform and was named deputy squadron commander for the day, where he was allowed to help Miseli make decisions.
“The thing I enjoyed most was watching him have this experience,” Nelini said. “I really enjoyed how everyone was just so friendly … they came up to his level and shook his hand. They treated him like one of their own.”
Nelini said soldiers are Neil’s idols and he’s always wanted to join the Army.
“He has no other dream,” said Nelini. “That’s it — to be a soldier.”