Nicknamed "Superman" because of his chiseled 6-foot-3 frame, Marine Lt. Patrick Wayland saved his most heroic act for last. He donated a kidney to a comrade he never met.
Wayland, a flight student at Pensacola Naval Air Station, died earlier this month after his heart stopped beating during water survival training. He was already an organ donor, but while on life support, his family decided they wanted to help a fellow Marine.
A doctor who treated the 24-year-old Wayland searched the Internet for "Marine needing transplant" and found a website for Sgt. Jacob "Jake" Chadwick, who was stationed on the other side of the country at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Chadwick had a serious kidney disease and was undergoing dialysis, four hours each day. He and Wayland were about the same age, and after several tests, doctors said they were a match.
"He has given me a second chance at life," Chadwick, 23, said Tuesday.
Inspired by 9/11
Wayland decided he wanted to become a pilot and attend the Naval Academy after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He was a top high school student, athlete and involved in his community of Midland, Texas, according to his father. But he didn't get an academy appointment on his first try and went to Texas Tech. He was accepted to the academy the next year.
He had recently taken his first solo flight as a Marine flight student. He sent a text message to his father, David Wayland, as he was waiting on the runway.
"He did accomplish that goal," David Wayland said. "He had done his preliminary flight instruction and his solo flight. I joked with him that if he didn't make it make back, we would give his room to his sister."
When Wayland was taken to the hospital Aug. 1, friends and family spent four days at his bedside before he was declared brain dead.
"Patty was psychically very strong and seeing him in a hospital bed was very difficult," said Wayland's roommate, Marine Lt. John Silvestro.
Dr. Jeffery Moore, a flight surgeon at the Pensacola base who initially treated Wayland, kept vigil with family and friends. He wanted to do something for the family.
"I was very happy that I found somebody but there was still a lot of screening that had to be done. The fact that he turned out to be such a perfect match was pretty amazing," Moore said.
Chadwick is married and the couple is expecting their second child in November. His wife, Victoria, created a website for her husband when he was diagnosed with kidney disease after returning from a yearlong deployment to Iraq in 2009. Chadwick had been on a five-year waiting list for a transplant when he received the kidney Aug. 7.
He didn't know the full story behind his transplant until days later when Silvestro, Wayland's roommate, called him. They have kept in touch ever since.
"From the time you go into boot camp to the time you leave boot camp, it is about being there for your fellow Marines. This is the ultimate example of that," Silvestro said.
They Waylands don't know who received the other five organs that were donated. But they hope to eventually meet Chadwick.
"I know it will take time for them," Chadwick said. "I cannot begin to express what I feel for what they have done. This is all so overwhelming."
Chadwick said the Marine Corps is a brotherhood.
"From the time you go into boot camp to the time you leave boot camp, it is about being there for your fellow Marines. This is the ultimate example of that."