Dream Foundation to Fulfill Dying Marine Corps Veteran’s Final Dream to Take Historical Tour of Pearl Harbor
Santa Barbara, CA – In conjunction with the VA Maryland Health Care System and Disabled American Veterans, Dream Foundation – the only national dream-granting organization for adults and their families suffering life-threatening illness – will fulfill hospice patient Joseph Hooker’s final dream to explore the history of the U.S. Marine Corps at Pearl Harbor.
Hooker’s dream is being served by Dream Foundation’s new sub-program, Dreams for Veterans, which will launch officially in Fall 2015. The mission of Dreams for Veterans is to give back to terminally ill veterans and their families through the fulfillment of a final dream.
With a prognosis of fewer than two months due to heart disease and cancer, Hooker, a 63-year-old Essex, Maryland resident and Vietnam Veteran, will take his brother and sister-in-law, who are also his caregivers, on a journey years in the making.
Together they’ll travel to Honolulu to board the (BB-63) USS Missouri, where they will receive a private tour and “learn, touch, and understand what happened there,” Hooker wrote in an application letter to Dream Foundation.
The tour will be 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 25. At approximately 9:45 a.m.—escorted by local Veterans Service Organization (VSO) volunteers—Hooker, his brother and sister-in-law will meet a representative from the USS Missouri in front of the entrance to the battleship. Press is invited to attend.
Barbara Hayes with the VSO: (808) 433-7676
Chaslee Ikawa from the USS Missouri (808) 455-1600 x232
Honolulu VA Public Affairs Office (PAO) (808) 433-0049
Hooker served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1968 to 1972, voluntarily enlisting at age 17 because “that was where my heart led me,” he continued in his application letter. “My heart was telling me that I was a Marine and that I was going to work hard and train to be the best.” During his years of service, he was stationed in Paris Island, Europe and Vietnam.
According to Tova Jussim, Hooker’s Optum Hospice and Palliative Care (a Dream Foundation Hospice Partner) social worker who made the referral to Dream Foundation, “When he was returning home from his time in the service, the ship he was on had a 20-minute stopover at Pearl Harbor. At that time, his superiors shared the Marine Corps history of Pearl Harbor, World War II and the Marines’ role in the Pacific Theater. He saw the Pacific Fleet from a distance in 1972 and promised himself he would return.”
Until now, 42 years later, the decorated Veteran who had worked his way up from Private to Sargent had not had the chance to return.
According to Dream Foundation Executive Director Kisa Heyer, “Truly, it is an honor for us to serve those who have so bravely served our country. Mr. Hooker’s final wish is a testament to his patriotism and sense of duty. We are proud to share in this momentous occasion.”
As Dream Foundation serves the final wishes of adults nationwide from one small office in California, the organization works with its corporate “Partners in Dreams” and affiliated volunteers to ensure dream experiences maintain a personal touch and sense of community. CKE
Restaurants, Inc.—parent company of Carl’s Jr.® and Hardee’s® brands—has been a longtime partner with Dream Foundation and pledges additional support to serve the final dreams of U.S. veterans as part of its annual Stars for Heroes™ fundraising campaign.
In addition to the USS Missouri tour, Dream Foundation has provided the airfare from Maryland to Hawaii, as well as four nights in Hawaii, accommodations on either end due to layovers, and financial assistance for meals and incidentals.