The 179th Airlift Wing hosted Agustin “AGU” Cal as an honorary “Pilot for a Day” on September 27 at their base in Mansfield Agustin was given the honorary rank and treatment of a colonel and an honorary lifetime membership to the 164th Airlift Squadron. The 179th Airlift Wing worked with Nationwide Children’s Hospital and their Make-A-Wish Foundation to make this day possible.
The Pilot for a Day Program is new to the 179th Airlift Wing and Agustin was the second child to participate. The program provides a fun-filled day for children and young adults living with chronic or life threatening diseases. Agustin and his family arrived at the 164th Airlift Squadron early Tuesday morning to find the aircrew briefing room full of airmen awaiting his arrival. The room stood to attention as the honorary Col. Agustin “AGU” Cal entered the room. 179th Airlift Wing Commander, Col. James R. Camp, asked Agustin to raise his right hand and repeat the “Pilot for a Day Oath”; agreeing to have a lot of fun and smile throughout the day. Two airmen from the Communications Flight, Tech. Sgt. Angel Marrero and Senior Airman Arsenio Hernandez, were able to help interpret throughout the day for the Cal family, who are from Uruguay and speak only broken English.
The next stop gave him the opportunity to try out the aircrew life support equipment such as night vision goggles and the pilots helmet. Aircrew Flight Equipment gave demonstrations on what the aircrew goes through in preparation for each flight and the training they need to survive in emergency situations.
The 179th Maintenance hanger was their next stop. The family entered the hangar to find a welcoming party of C-130H Hercules maintainers taking a moment away from their work to enthusiastically welcome their hero of the day. The flight line was buzzing with activity as Capt. Matt Bulanda led Agustin and his family out to tour the C-130H, the “Spirit of Galion”.
Master Sgt. David Cales, Flight Navigator of the aircraft, helped Agustin find his way to the Pilots seat. Cales and Bulanda spent some time going over what they were doing as they performed a pre-flight inspection in preparation for the mission of the day.
Agustin was then given a tour of the Air National Guards oldest operational fire station and operated one of the fire hoses. His younger sister got in on the action as well. After touring the Fire department, they were ready for a lunch like no other.
The cargo bay of the C-130 was outfitted for a pizza party with the Commander, Col. James R. Camp. With the helpful interpreting by Marrero and Hernandez, the family was able to have a nice discussion with the commander.
Following lunch, the “Spirit of Galion” was roaring and ready to be marshaled off of the flight line. Agustin and his family were then loaded into a white cargo vehicle, also known as “the bread truck”, to be escorted out to the airfield drop zone. The aircrew of the “Spirit of Galion” had plans to perform some air drops for training. Agustin and his family were positioned in a calculated position where they could watch for a special package to be delivered by air drop.
The package dropped out of the passing C-130H and Capt. Bulanda retrieved it, bringing it over to Agustin and his family who were told to open it. The bag revealed candy and a 164th Airlift Squadron flag, a gift from above.
The day was nearly over, but Agustin had one last stop to make. The Security Forces Squadron gave Agustin and his family a chance to see some of the equipment and weapons that they use to protect the installation and themselves. Master Sgt. Michael Casto and Tech. Sgt. Brandon Velemirov gave the presentation and offered Agustin a chance to handle the cleared and safe weapons. Agustin laughed and let them know that “They make it look easy on Call of Duty”.
As the day wrapped up, Agustin and his family thanked the airmen involved for everything and said their goodbyes. The “Pilot for a Day” may have been over but the 164th Airlift Squadron felt good knowing that they had gained an honorary member for life.