January 24, 2013 - MacAidan "Mac" Gallegos' letter to his father: Dear dad, I have some questions. What is it like in a tank? What is it like to be a scout? How old are you now? How old were you when you died? What is your favorite food? What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite hobby? What is your favorite activity? What is it like in heaven? Have you seen what I have accomplished? From your son (U.S. Air Force Reserve photo
by Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso)
Mac and his mother Amanda Marr
discussed ways to get the letter to heaven but ultimately decided
that having someone fly it would be the best.
"I posted on
Facebook that we were looking for a pilot who could fly the letter
for Mac," said Marr. "Kyle Moxley from HAVE Alaska contacted me and
said he would coordinate and try to make it happen."
American Veterans Experience Alaska, or HAVE Alaska, was stood up in
2010 by Moxley and his wife Carla to provide opportunities for
Veterans to experience hunting and fishing excursions in Alaska.
A few emails and phone calls later Mac, his mother and his
step-father, Army Master Sgt. Jeremy Marr, were meeting Senior
Airman Jennifer Dunham, 90th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew
chief who gave them a tour of the Raptor.
Before stepping to
fly Lt. Col. Brian Baldwin, a Reserve F-22 pilot assigned to the
302nd Fighter Squadron, met Mac at his F-22 where the little boy
handed over the letter to his father written on red construction
paper, his dad's favorite color.
"It is an honor to fly with
Mac's letter," said Baldwin. "His father gave the greatest sacrifice
to our country and I am humbled to be able to do something for him
and his family."
Mac and his family have baked cupcakes and
said they look forward to taking time out to remember Gallegos on
"Over the years we would have a party for
Justin on his birthday," said Marr, who grew up in Palmer, Alaska
but now resides in Anchorage. "As Mac has gotten older we have
turned it into a day where we do "Acts of Service" for others. It is
important for us to remember Justin and celebrate his life."