USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Aviation ordnancemen (AO) assigned to aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 came together June 22 for a photo on the flight deck spelling out the name of a young boy diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Dyrk Burcie was three years old when he was diagnosed with pediatric liver cancer, and despite nine rounds of chemotherapy and a liver transplant, his prognosis is still grim.
The photo is part of what has become a spontaneous campaign intended to bring some happiness and comfort to his family during their time of need.
This unique campaign began with one act of kindness from the Dallas Fire Department, where Dameon Burcie, Dyrk's father, works.
To show support for their fellow fire fighter, Dameon's coworkers got together and took a photo with personnel and fire trucks forming the shape of the boy's name. This thoughtful gesture spread to other fire departments, which began creating their own photos.
Enterprise became involved when Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Julian Medina, a forklift technician assigned to weapons department's G-1 division, received an e-mail from his brother, a Dallas fire fighter who works with Dameon Burcie. The letter described the boy's story and asked if something similar could be done aboard the aircraft carrier.
"When my brother e-mailed me the story, I wanted to get involved," said Medina. "That's when I (brought the idea to) Chief Warrant Officer James Yager, and he took it from there."
"Medina approached me with a story of a young boy from Dallas who was dying from cancer, and asked me if we could do something," said Chief Warrant Officer James Yager, air gunner with weapons department's G-1 division. "So I contacted Aviation Ordnancemen from the ship's company and the air wing and got them together to do this photo on the flight deck so we could send it back to the family."
With a helicopter already in the air on a routine flight, the group of AOs had just 45 minutes to form the letters that would spell out Dyrk's name using only a drawing from Yager. In total, approximately 300 AOs showed up to help.
The outpouring of participation in this touching tribute was felt by everyone involved in the spelling of his name.
"It's an awesome feeling to know you're helping someone," said Medina. "Even though it was just a 45-minute [photo] shoot for us on the flight deck, everyone knew what it was for and knew it was going to make a big impact on this one child's life."
A photo, which was born out of a basic desire to bring some sense of happiness to a child's life, spread quickly through the ranks of fire departments in Texas and has now touched down on the flight deck of Enterprise.
Though one of Enterprise's own Sailors is connected to Dyrk's father, Yager believes this shared experience also highlights the brotherhood of those who serve and protect every American.
"Ever since 9/11 I just feel like the military, the fire department and police have become more of a tight-knit group," said Yager. "We all support each other and we're all out to accomplish the same goals. This was definitely an instance where we could all come together to make a difference in someone's life."
"Anything like this, if he was my child and I got this kind of support from people, I know I would appreciate it," said Yager. "I have a soft spot in my heart for children and I thought this would be a good thing to do for him and his family."
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