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KS ANG makes wish come true

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Sometimes wishes really do come true. Four-year-old Yosiah Smith got everything he asked for July 8, thanks to the Kansas Make-A-Wish Foundation and Kansas Air National Guard.

Surrounded by full regal splendor, Yosiah, who has undergone treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia since March 2005, was presented a play castle at his home in Penalosa, Kansas. The structure measured 15 feet wide, by 21 feet long and 16 feet high and lived up to his wish, a dream born from endless hours of watching the movie "A Knights Tale" while in the hospital for lengthy stretches of time.

"Today means everything in the world to us," said a tearful mother, Ginny Wells. "We can go out and enjoy the castle with him from now on and remind him that life goes on. We look forward to just keep going every day."

Although Yosiah had known for a long time about the arrival of the castle, the pomp and circumstance surrounding its presentation had been kept a secret. A blindfolded Yosiah was hesitant and speechless as he viewed his fortress for the first time, surrounded by about 30 renaissance re-enactors in full garb.

After exploring his new castle, Yosiah was knighted in a ceremony performed by Chivalry for Children. Young Smith was also presented a sword, medieval helmet, and a photo of "modern day knights"— all the airplanes the Kansas Air National Guard at McConnell Air Force Base has flown throughout their history.

Medieval dancers, jousters and an arch of sabers throughout the afternoon provided an aura of authenticity and magic to the day.

The event also marked the 800th wish granted by the Kansas Make-A-Wish Foundation. Wish granter Thursa Weier of Benton, Kan., enlisted the help of her husband, Tech. Sgt. Darin Weier, and his fellow colleagues from the Kansas Air National Guard and LDF Sales and Distributing to help build and transport the gigantic structure from Wichita to the Penalosa farm -- about an hour away.

Jeff Saxton, a subcontractor with LDF, orchestrated the primary construction of the structure, to include 120 man hours in the truck parking lot of LDF.
"I'm just tickled everything came together well. I like that people do things for other people," said Ms. Wells.

Both Sergeant Weier and Tech. Sgt. Cory Buthe, from Vehicle Operations in the 184th Logistics Readiness Squadron, assisted Mr. Saxton during construction, and transported the giant castle. With the help of a 40-foot flatbed trailer, an all terrain 10K forklift and a 20-foot tilt bed trailer the move was a success, despite rain and muddy country roads.

"There is great training value for us in this project," said Sergeant Weier. "Any time you have an opportunity to get out on the road with specialized vehicles such as these and use them for an operation, it hones your skills."

Commander of the 184th Logistics Readiness Squadron and Andover, Kan., resident Maj. Chet Wilson, echoed Sergeant Weier's sentiments in regards to training. "In addition to being a great cause, this was an opportunity to accomplish some equipment training and help Yosiah's wish come true."