Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Local boy is Pilot for a Day

by Airman 1st Class Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/30/2011 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- A local boy and his family toured the base with the Pilot for a Day program here August 26.

Fifteen year-old Brandon Valles, his mother Dellma Valles, father Ernie Valles, and twin brothers Alex and Ricky Valles were escorted by Capt. Jason Pruitt, 358th Fighter Squadron pilot, during their tour.

"This program gives the base the opportunity to show a truly special kid a great time," Captain Pruitt said. "I really enjoyed being a part of it."

The goal of the Pilot for a Day program is to benefit children in the local community who have catastrophic illnesses.

The first stop on the tour was the 358th FS where Brandon received his very own, custom-made flight suit. He was presented a special lithograph, took the oath of office and had his wings pinned on his suit by Lt. Col. Andrew Kapuscak, 355th Training Squadron commander.

"I think it's great that everyone took time out their day to host this program," Mrs. Valles said.

From there the tour took Brandon and his family to various locations including aircraft static displays, the new fire station and the A-10 simulator. Brandon ate lunch with Col. John Cherrey, 355th Fighter Wing commander, and ended his tour with a visit to the military working dogs kennel.

"When I go to the hospital for my next treatment, I'm going to wear my flight suit," Brandon said. "The nurses said they wanted to see it, so I'll go show it off."

Brandon was diagnosed with stage four rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancerous tumor of the
muscles that are attached to the bones.

D-M hosted its first Pilot for a Day program participant in August 2000. For more information about the Pilot for a Day program, visit

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. – Capt. Jason Pruitt, 358th Fighter Squadron, fits his helmet on Brandon Valles here Aug. 26. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Christine Halan)


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