Local USAF Reserve Unit Names Young Leukemia Patient 'Pilot For A Day'

An 8-year-old San Antonio boy who suffers from what doctors describe as a "high-risk" form of leukemia is the locally based 433rd Airlift Wing's newest "Pilot for a Day," News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The Air Force Reservists at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland today gave Giovanny Gallegos treatment normally bestowed upon top-level brass during his visit to the unit, which operates the giant C-5M Super Galaxy transport aircraft. 

 Giovanni, a patient at the Children's Hospital of San Antonio, was sworn in as an honorary 2nd Lieutenant, logged "flight time" in a C-5 Super Galaxy simulator, climbed aboard a real C-5M, and met base firefighters before sitting down to lunch with his family and the 433rd's commander and staff, says Maj. Tim Wade, the unit's spokesman.

Wade says the 433rd's "Pilot For a Day" community partners program offers children between the ages of 8 and 14 who suffer from life-threatening or chronic illnesses a chance to visit an Air Force Reserve unit and meet military personnel at work. In turn, Wade says, the Wing's personnel learn more about the mission of the Children's Hospital of San Antonio.

Offering seriously ill children a break from the hospital, he says, makes "Pilot for a Day" more than just another monthly drill date for the 433rd.

"If we can just give them a little bit of time away from that, it means the world to not only them, but definitely to us in giving back to those young people," says Wade."This gives them that opportunity to still come out and see behind the curtain and be involved with our Wing, and forever be a member of the Wing," Wade adds. Gallegos is the 433rd's third "Pilot for a Day."

(Photo courtesy Children's Hospital of San Antonio)

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