CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. –
Team Charleston hosted the Pilot for a Day program for the 17th Airlift Squadron's youngest honorary pilot April 20.
Zachary Moore, three-and-a-half-year-old son of Capt. Christopher Moore, 437th Airlift Wing chief of public affairs, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 18 months and is undergoing chemotherapy treatment at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Captain Moore said he talked to Lt. Col. Lenny Richoux, 17th Airlift Squadron commander, a few months ago and the colonel didn't know Zachary had cancer. When he found out about it, he wanted his squadron to host the Pilot for a Day program for Zachary. Charleston's airlift squadrons have hosted the Pilot for a Day program for children with life-threatening diseases since 1997.
The 17 AS spent about one week planning and coordinating all the events of the day for Zachary, his parents and his younger sister, Jaden.
Zachary's experience as a pilot for the day began when he met members of the 17 AS. They showed him a video to explain Team Charleston's mission as he sat on his mother's lap.
Maj. Brett King, 17 AS assistant director of operations, presented him with several items after the video so he would always remember this day. He was given a squadron coin, squadron stickers, a squadron scarf, his pilot wings and a flight jacket.
Zachary's flight jacket was slightly too large for him, but they know it will fit him soon. The squadron also ordered him a personalized name patch for his jacket, but it hadn't arrived yet. 1st Lt. Jeremy Campbell, 17 AS C-17 pilot who coordinated the Pilot for a Day program, decided to place one of his own name patches on Zachary's jacket and said, "I'll let him be me for the day."
After he was given his gifts, Capt. Moore taught his son how to challenge everyone in the room with his new squadron coin. Shortly after, the room was filled with the sound of several Airmen tapping their coins on tables in response to Zachary's challenge.
"It's great to have him here to be part of us today," said Major King. "I know that there are probably a lot of members in this squadron who had this same dream when they were younger."
After he spent his time at the squadron, Zachary was taken to the C-17 Aircrew Training Center where he got the chance to fly in the simulator. With the help of Lieutenant Campbell, Zachary had a successful simulated flight around Charleston.
"I really hope we made his day as enjoyable as possible," said Lieutenant Campbell. "I think he enjoyed the simulator the most. He seemed to have a lot of fun there."
Later, Zachary and his family went to the fire station on base. He met Sparky, their mascot, and he also got a tour of the station including an opportunity to sit in one of the trucks.
When his tour of the fire station was finished, he was taken on the flightline in one of the fire trucks to a static C-17 where he toured the plane.
"I think this was a great experience for him," said Kimberly Moore, Zachary's mother. "I'm sure he'll talk about this for days, especially after he takes a nap and recovers from everything he got to do today."
Zachary's day as a Charleston AFB pilot was wrapped up with a picnic. As the 17 AS's honorary pilot, he was invited to attend their squadron picnic after the day's activities as their special guest.
"I think it was really important for us to do this for him after everything he's gone through so far in his young life," said Lieutenant Campbell. "It was an honor to do this for him because he truly deserved this."