By Staff Sgt. Mark Nussbaumer
Public Affairs Office
Seth Cummings, a junior from Topeka West High School, was recently offered the chance to do something few people his age get to do: “pull the tail” on a Paladin M10946 155mm howitzer.
Pulling the tail involves hooking a rope to the firing mechanism on the gun after the weapon is primed and loaded and yanking the cord. Cummings says the experience was extremely satisfying. “Explosions are always cool.”
Cummings, a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet, suffers from Stage IV Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare soft tissue type of cancer found most commonly in kids.
“Seth is a great kid,” said Sgt. First Class Angel Romero, JROTC instructor, who has served as Seth’s instructor since he was a freshman in high school. “Sometimes you just get dealt a bad hand in life and that’s what happened to him.”
Romero said Seth had to work hard to do what he wanted to do.
“Seth was part of the drill and all the kids on the drill team are usually here around 5:30 in the morning,” said Romero. “Additionally he was part of the Raider team and wouldn’t normally leave school unt
il 6:00 at night, training.”
Cummings was also offered a chance to shoot from a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, an armored personnel carrier that fires a 25mm round out of a M242 chain gun.
His final wish granted by the Kansas National Guard was to take a flight around the Topeka area aboard a Black Hawk helicopter, where he was able to see his house and experience what it was like to fly aboard a military aircraft.
“The flight was awesome,” he said.
“I am very grateful for everything the Kansas National Guard has done for me,” Cummings said, “and all the support that I have been given.”
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Editor’s note: Seth Cummings passed away on May 15.