Long before he was a hero to his country, Wilson McEachern was a foster child in need of a hero of his own.
Today, he is many things: a Marine, a patriot and a hero. This past year during an IED explosion in Afghanistan, he assisted his Sergeant in pulling a fellow marine out of a flaming vehicle. Because of this brave action, as well as other combat leadership initiatives, he was given a meritorious battlefield promotion to the rank of Corporal.
Wilson met his adoptive parents when he was just three years old. Leigh and Pam McEachern already had a combined family of five teenagers when they began fostering children and were not interested in raising another family. But today, Wilson is the eldest of their eight adopted children and whole household is made up of heroes:
• Wilson’s younger adoptive brother, Christopher, is serving in the United States Army Reserves, and is scheduled for deployment to Iraq in the spring of 2011.
• Pam’s eldest biological daughter and her husband, who also served in the United States Army, have four adopted children.
• Pam’s youngest biological son and his wife recently earned their foster parenting license following the birth of their second child.
• Leigh and Pam have provided respite for other foster and adoptive families they know, as well as provided short-term care for nine local foster children through the Florida Department of Children and Families.
“My dad was in the military, so it was something I always thought I’d like to try doing,” said McEachern. “If I hadn’t been adopted, I could be on the street selling drugs right now; If I hadn’t been raised in the home I was raised in, my life could have been very different, but I am so thankful that it is what it is.”
The 21-year-old spent his formative years growing up in the Florida countryside surrounded by his family, while hunting deer, showing goats in 4H competitions and attending school around his kitchen table. After completing his high school degree at the early age of 16, he spent a semester at Seminole Community College. There he met a recruiter for the United States Marines and his sense of duty led him to join the armed forces following his eighteenth birthday.
Because of his adoption, Wilson now has three families – one with the McEacherns and his 13 siblings; one with his new wife, Bethany; and the other with the United States Marines.