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Iraq War veteran fighting terminal cancer gets his final wish to feel tank's 'thunder of doom'

U.S. Army veteran Jay Tenison checked off a bucket list item after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He got inside a tank — and fired it one last time at Fort Moore in Georgia.

With less than six months left to live, U.S. Army veteran Jay Tenison posted his No. 1 bucket list item on Reddit.

He wanted to fire an M1 Abrams tank — and feel the "thunder of doom" again. 

Tenison, 39, an Iraq War veteran, was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer


It had been nearly two decades since he last fired a tank, but it was his top request on a list of things he wanted to accomplish once he received the terminal diagnosis. 

His wish came true when his Reddit post found its way to the Army.

After a lot of planning, Tenison traveled from his home in Arizona to Fort Moore in Columbus, Georgia. 

Then, after a day in a tank simulator, he was ready for the real deal.

"I was not prepared for the first boom," said Tenison. 

"It was every bit of what I remembered from before and just as awesome."

With the help of the Army, Tenison got to fire an Abrams M1A2 main battle tank

The last time Tenison fired a tank was back in 2005. 

Despite that, he said, it was just like riding a bike. 

"He hit every target. Every single target on the first shot, which is pretty incredible," said Col. Ryan Kranc, who helped oversee the operation and is commander of the 316th Cavalry Brigade.

But Col. Kranc said Tenison’s accuracy wasn’t surprising. 

After Tenison spent a day in a tank simulator, Col. Kranc said, "We have the finest master gunners in the Army teaching new master gunners how to be master gunners. And I said, ‘If you’re going to go anywhere, you picked the right place.’"


A father of two daughters, Tenison served for four years in the Army, then another five years in the Army Reserves. 

Despite his relatively short time in the Army, his military service is something that stayed with him as an important chapter in his life, he said. 

While Tenison was at Fort Moore, Col. Kranc also awarded him the Order of Saint George, a prestigious recognition given to cavalry and tanker soldiers for outstanding service. 

"I’m going to make a video diary for my daughters to view when they’re older," said Tenison about his experiences. 

"I’m hoping that I can explain to them that this was a huge thing and that this is what happens when a community supports itself," he also said.

Col. Kranc said, "I don’t know how else we can encapsulate what it means to be a soldier for life, other than what we saw today."

Now that Tenison has checked off this bucket list item — he said that next on his list is skydiving.

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