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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | Dec. 22, 2023

Joint Base Andrews welcomes 34th Pilot for a Day

By Senior Airman Tyrone Thomas | 316th Wing Public Affairs

The base welcomed 13-year-old Jeremiah Hawkins as the 34th “Pilot for a Day” participant from the Check-6 Foundation, Dec. 15.

Hawkins experienced a full day of events at Andrews touring several flying and support squadrons by visiting their flight simulators and aircraft. He was paired with Master Sgt. Jesse McCarley, 121st Fighter Squadron aircrew flight equipment flight chief, as his “Wingman for Life,” a coveted role as his companion and tour guide while on base.

“Jeremiah is a Prince George County local in the seventh grade, so it’s cool for him to see the aircraft he sees flying overhead everyday up close and personal,” said McCarley.

Hawkins was initially diagnosed with a brain tumor August 2022, that ultimately effected his breathing, heart rate, nerves and muscles. He began radiation therapy shortly after and underwent 30 radiation treatments.

Founder of Check-6 and retired U.S. Air Force Col. Rob Balzano, said, “This is incredibly important for the child and family to have this experience. It’s about people networking with their military talent and resources...coming together to create a plan for a kid almost like a joint operation. It’s amazing to see agencies come together to host, make gifts, and really make the Pilot for a Day child feel special.”

For almost twenty years, the Check-6 Foundation has coordinated “Pilot for a Day” events twice a year at Andrews for children with serious medical conditions.

“We are honored to partner with the Check-6 Foundation to provide this incredible experience for children, but also for our service members to showcase the ‘Check-6’ mentality that we have their back,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Todd Randolph, 316th Wing and JBA installation commander