FORT BRAGG — An 8-year-old cancer survivor is sharing an 82nd Airborne Division title this year.
Anna-Marie Nolen was named the division's Junior Paratrooper of the Year for ages 5-8 during a ceremony Tuesday at Fort Bragg, while Savanna Oen shares the same honor for ages 9-14.
Anna-Marie's father, Maj. David Nolen, has served with the division's 82nd Sustainment Brigade for nearly a year and has been in the Army for 12 years.
According to her nomination packet, Anna-Marie battled blood cancer in 2019.
She endured more than 800 days of chemotherapy, 75 days of inpatient and outpatient care and multiple blood transfusions, her nomination stated.
“I was in chemo for four years,” Anna-Marie candidly said following Tuesday’s ceremony. “It was kind of hard.”
According to her nomination packet, Anna-Marie “remained in high spirits” despite her diagnosis.
In February last year, she received her last treatment and is now in post-treatment remission, her father said.
Anna-Marie said being named Junior Paratrooper of the Year means a lot to her.
“It’s great to be a military kid,” she said. “I’m actually very excited.”
Savanna was not immediately available following Thursday’s ceremony.
Her parent is a member of the division’s Combat Aviation Brigade.
According to her nomination, Savanna is an honor-roll student and full-time competitive cheerleader.
“While competing at the national level, she volunteers her time by ensuring other junior paratroopers feel included because she knows how it feels to be in new environments,” her nomination form stated.
Anna-Marie and Savanna were two of seven military children recognized at Tuesday’s ceremony.
The nominees were reviewed based on how they contribute to the community and their unit and what extracurricular activities they participate in.
Maj. Gen. Christopher LaNeve, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said those who serve in the division pay a price by being the nation’s “911” response force who could be called upon to deploy “at a moment’s notice.”
“The price is felt by everybody that calls a paratrooper a family member and has a loved one that potentially can go into harm’s way, and sometimes the ones that ask the most questions are our children,” LaNeve said.
LaNeve said is “in awe” of all of this year’s nominees.
Other nominees recognized during Tuesday’s ceremony included:
• Lucas Rodriguez, whose parent serves with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Lucas’ nomination stated that he volunteers by playing sports with paratroopers, helping serve food at Soldier Family Readiness Group events and volunteering at yearly battalion football tournaments.
• Kason Felan, whose parent serves with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Kason’s nomination stated that he has a 4.0-grade point average and that he accompanies the unit in off-post hikes and plays softball with paratroopers.
• Addison-Rae Weihe, whose parent serves with the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery Brigade. Addison-Rae's nomination stated that she volunteers at a local horse farm and with her younger sister’s Girl Scouts program while being an honor roll student and athlete.
• Yzabella Weihe, whose parent serves with the division’s artillery brigade. Yzabella’s nomination stated that she volunteers at a local horse farm, with her younger sister’s Girl Scouts program and helps paratroopers with childcare while being a scholar athlete.
• Oliver Rivas, whose parent serves with the 1st Brigade Combat Team.
Military reporter Rachael Riley can be contacted at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Cancer survivor shares 82nd Junior Paratrooper of Year Title