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Pilot for the day soars with Alamo Wing

The 433rd Airlift Wing hosted 8-year-old Giovanny Gallegos, who is battling high risk leukemia, as the Pilot for a Day Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Air Force Reserve Citizen Airmen and Civil Air Patrol cadets assembled in two lines to salute Giovanny Gallegos, honorary second lieutenant, as he walked onto the front cargo deck of the C-5M Super Galaxy Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Gallegos, the 433rd Airlift Wing's Pilot for the Day, visited the C-5M simulator and Fire Station #2 during his visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Treviño)

The 433rd Airlift Wing hosted 8-year-old Giovanny Gallegos, who is battling high risk leukemia, as the Pilot for a Day Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Mike Rolirad, Fire Station #2 fire fighter, explains equipment being used for training to Giovanny Gallegos,the 433rd Airlift Wing's Pilot for a Day, Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Gallegos, 8, who is battling high risk leukemia, visited the C-5M Super Galaxy flight simulator and a static aircraft on the flightline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Treviño)

The 433rd Airlift Wing hosted 8-year-old Giovanny Gallegos, who is battling high risk leukemia, as the Pilot for a Day Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Col. Thomas “TK” Smith, Jr., 433rd Airlift Wing commander, pins on 2nd lieutenants bars onto Giovanny Gallegos during a honorary “swearing in” ceremony for the Pilot for the Day Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Gallegos, who is battling high risk leukemia, visited Fire Station #2, flew in a C-5M Super Galaxy simulator and toured a C-5M static aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Treviño)

The 433rd Airlift Wing hosted 8-year-old Giovanny Gallegos, who is battling high risk leukemia, as the Pilot for a Day Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Lt. Col. Doug Brown, 68th Airlift Squadron pilot, gives his approval along with 8-year-old Giovanny Gallego, who is battling high risk leukemia, during the Pilot for a Day Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. Brown and Gallegos spent time in the C-5M Super Galaxy simulator during the 8-year-old’s visit to see how the Air Force Reserve Citizen Airmen fly, fight and win. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Treviño)

The 433rd Airlift Wing hosted 8-year-old Giovanny Gallegos, who is battling high risk leukemia, as the Pilot for a Day Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Giovanny Gallegos, 8, looks out an egress hatch on a C-5M Super Galaxy during his time as the Pilot for a Day Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Treviño)

The 433rd Airlift Wing hosted 8-year-old Giovanny Gallegos, who is battling high risk leukemia, as the Pilot for a Day Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Chief Master Sgt. Shana C. Cullum (left), 433rd Airlift Wing command chief, Col. David Scott (center), 433rd Airlift Wing vice commander, and Col. Thomas “TK” Smith, Jr. (right), 433rd Airlift Wing commander, presents Giovanny Gallegos, the Pilot for a Day, a photograph of his swearing-in ceremony Sept. 8, 2018 at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio chose Gallegos to participate in the program hosted by the 433rd Airlift Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Treviño)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --

The 433rd Airlift Wing hosted 8-year-old Giovanny Gallegos, who is battling high risk leukemia, as the Pilot for a Day Sept. 8, 2018 here.

The Alamo Wing in partnership with the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio sponsors the Pilot for the Day program.  The program’s goal is to provide children, who have serious or chronic medical conditions, and their families the opportunity to be a guest of the Air Force Reserve Citizen Airmen for the day. 

“After all he has been through, I feel really blessed to have my Gio chosen to be Pilot for the Day,” Jessica Gallegos, his mother said.

What touched her emotions, was the line of Reserve Citizen Airmen and Civil Air Patrol cadets assembled in two lines saluting Giovanny as he walked up to the front cargo deck a C-5M Super Galaxy.

“I felt like crying,” she said. “It looked so nice, and I thought it was like they were recognizing him for everything he has been through.”

“Last year he had a heart attack and had multiple strokes before they discovered the leukemia,” she said. “That was due to how aggressive his leukemia was. His cardiologist told me that he has never seen a child with so much heart damage do so good,” mom said about her son’s efforts to recover from these life threatening incidents.

“It’s extremely important for the Alamo Wing to give back to the community and a wonderful opportunity to host the Pilot for the Day Program,” Col. Thomas “TK” Smith, Jr., 433rd AW commander said.

The program strives to give children a special day as an honorary pilot and a break from the challenges they face. The children are selected for the program by the Children’s Hospital.

The day began with Gallegos being “sworn in” as an honorary second lieutenant by Smith, who then gave Gallegos and his family a mission brief before continuing the tour.

His next stop was at the C-5 Formal Training Unit to learn how to fly a C-5M Super Galaxy simulator. Lt. Col. Doug Brown, 68th Airlift Squadron pilot, taught Gallegos about flying the $36 million simulator and presented him with a squadron shirt, coins and patches.

“It was fun, it was like a video game,” Giovanny said.

Gallegos “landed” at JBSA-Lackland after his simulated flight which included the skylines of San Francisco, California, Honolulu, Hawaii and San Antonio. Gallegos then visited the base's Fire Station #2 to meet the firefighters and learn about their station and how they use their firefighting equipment.

His day ended with lunch at the Live Oak Inn, where Gallegos and his family were able to eat in a military dining facility with the commander, vice commander and command chief before receiving a plaque and photo of his “swearing in” ceremony.

Programs like this are an important bridge between Reserve Citizen Airmen and Military City U.S.A. according to Smith.  “Especially here in the Reserves, we have Citizen Airmen, so we are the community. It really makes us feel special about what we do,” he said.