Exiting the breezeway at the Misawa City Airport near Misawa Air Base, Japan, Jonah affectionately embraced nearly everyone in sight, including his brother, Airman 1st Class Jared Skrove.
Gatherings are commonplace for members of the military and their families, but the reason for the Skrove’s reunion is far from ordinary.
Jonah is a self-described nerdy, obnoxious 17-year-old senior at Zimmerman High School in Minnesota who is battling a life-threatening bone cancer. Diagnosed with osteosarcoma last fall, Jonah was given the opportunity through the Make-A-Wish Foundation to do anything or go anywhere he wanted.
Instead of going to Disney or meeting a star athlete, Jonah wished to travel half-way around the world to see his brother, an electrical and environmental maintenance specialist with the 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit. The foundation made sure his parents and sister also had seats on the flight.
“I haven’t seen him since Christmas, and he’s basically my best friend,” Jonah said. “I didn’t think they’d be able to send everybody – I thought it would maybe be like one or two of us. I was kind of dreading having to pick between parents, but they sent all of us – it was very generous.”
Jonah’s cancer was detected in his right leg in September 2012 while his brother was in Air Force basic military training. His family felt the news would hinder Airman Skrove’s progress in BMT, so he wasn’t told about the diagnosis until after he graduated.
“We held back a lot from him because we didn’t want it to interfere with what he was going through and how excited he was going to be about graduating, and that was tough because they’re so close,” said their father, Jeff Skrove. “We worried about how Jared would take it – I think he had several tough times at that stage in his service.”
While Airman Skrove was at technical training, Jonah’s right leg was amputated below the knee, raising his survival rate from 50 to 70 percent. Despite a tight, strict training schedule, Airman Skrove’s instructors made sure he had time to cope.
“I was a mess,” Airman Skrove said. “When I got to call him after surgery and I heard how much pain he was in, I was devastated. It was hard, but knowing that there are better times to come…that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
The Skroves didn’t have to wait too long for a pick-me-up. Every 38 minutes the Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wish of a 3- to 17-year-old child who is battling a life-threatening illness. Jonah was notified his wish would come true earlier this spring.
However, Airman Skrove’s first sergeant, Senior Master Sgt. Harry Nichols, only found out about the Skrove family’s trip two days before they arrived here. Unbeknownst to Airman Skrove, Nichols has lost two immediate family members to cancer, and has a soft place in his heart for survivors. The first sergeant quickly began formulating a plan for the Skroves. …
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