High Rollers' First-Ever Pilot For A Day
by U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Emerson Marcus
Every pilot gets a call sign, but they don’t get to pick.
Within hours of his commission, Capt. Tennyson William Hunter,
13, received four finalists for his call sign: Kittens Mittens,
Chef, Lotto and Wizard.
First, for his love of cats. Second,
because he enjoys baking. Third, given the 152nd Airlift Wing “hit
the jackpot” recruiting him into the ranks and fourth because Hunter
is a fan of the J.K. Rowling book and movie series “Harry Potter.”
It was a tough choice, but in the end, members of the 152nd
Airlift Wing decided that “Wizard” should take flight.
December 16, 2019 - Capt. Tennison Hunter (call sign “Wizard”), 152nd Airlift Wing pilot stops to pose for a photo during his Pilot for a Day event. The 152nd Airlift Wing honored “Wizard” for an entire day. He was sworn in that morning and retired at the end of the day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Greine)
The naming of Hunter’s call sign ... announced during a ceremony
in front of more than 150 Nevada Air Guardsmen in the Wing’s
auditorium ... was one of several events Hunter experienced during
the 152nd Airlift Wing’s inaugural Pilot for a Day program held
December 16, 2019 at the Nevada Air National Guard Base in Reno.
Pilot for a Day is an Air Force-wide program that provides
chronically-ill children a chance to enter Air Force life.
Hunter, or “Tenny” as many call him, has Kabuki Syndrome, a
congenital disorder triggered by a genetic mutation that affects
multiple organ systems and causes developmental delays. He has had
over a dozen surgeries throughout his life.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to have him out
at the base because it showed all of our members the resiliency
someone can have," said Tech. Sgt. Sean Bird, a life support
specialist with the 152nd Airlift Wing. "It definitely put things in
Bird outfitted Hunter with his own flight suit
with nameplate and patches that were provided by members of the base
at no cost to the government.
Renown Children’s Hospital
nominated Hunter to be a Nevada Air National Guard Pilot for a Day.
“This event brought the base together and added perspective for
each and every member of the High Rollers," said Senior Master Sgt.
Paula Macomber, 152nd Airlift Wing public affairs manager, who
oversaw the organization of the unit’s first-ever Pilot for a Day
program. "I was shocked and humbled that so many of my co-workers
put so much care and energy into making this an unforgettable
The day started with Hunter swearing in for a one-day
oath of commission. Pilots briefed him on his “classified” mission
before he received a tour of the 152nd Airlift Wing’s C-130
aircraft. Hunter also visited the base firehouse, security forces
and the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control tower
before the day concluded with his retirement ceremony in the Wing
“Special things like this transcend
many of our day-to-day tasks,” said Maj. Joseph Jaquish, who briefed
Hunter’s mission and organized his call-sign ceremony. “The Air
Force focuses a lot on metrics, data and other numbers, but some
projects go beyond numbers. You can’t quantify this. It was much
bigger than that. It felt so nice to be part of something special.”
Jaquish added: “What made the day so enjoyable was that Capt.
Hunter was such a wonderful kid. I don’t want people to lose sight
of that. Renown did a good job nominating him for this event.”
Macomber said the 152nd Airlift Wing plans to organize a Pilot
for a Day event annually at the base.
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