HomeNewsArticle Display

Girl “crushes” illness, becomes pilot for a day

Alexis “Crusher” Chamberlain tries on her helmet and flight suit during a Pilot for a Day program event, Feb. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. This event provides children with serious or chronic medical conditions, and their families with the opportunity to be a guest of the 4th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Miranda A. Loera)

Alexis “Crusher” Chamberlain tries on her helmet and flight suit during a Pilot for a Day program event, Feb. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. This event provides children with serious or chronic medical conditions, and their families with the opportunity to be a guest of the 4th Fighter Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Miranda A. Loera)

Alexis “Crusher” Chamberlain, seven-year-old leukemia patient, was chosen to spend a day as an honorary fighter pilot with the 334th Fighter Squadron, Feb. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. “Crusher” said this was the first time she saw an F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft in person, but that her favorite part of the visit was the 334th FS coins she received. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Miranda A. Loera)

Alexis “Crusher” Chamberlain, seven-year-old leukemia patient, was chosen to spend a day as an honorary fighter pilot with the 334th Fighter Squadron, Feb. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. “Crusher” said this was the first time she saw an F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft in person, but that her favorite part of the visit was the 334th FS coins she received. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Miranda A. Loera)

Capt. Jonathan Martin, 334th Fighter Squadron pilot instructor, embraces Alexis “Crusher” Chamberlain, a seven-year-old girl recently diagnosed with leukemia, during a Pilot for a Day program event, Feb. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Alexis toured the fighter squadron, sat in an F-15E Strike Eagle and received memorabilia and gifts during her visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Miranda A. Loera)

Capt. Jonathan Martin, 334th Fighter Squadron pilot instructor, embraces Alexis “Crusher” Chamberlain, a seven-year-old girl recently diagnosed with leukemia, during a Pilot for a Day program event, Feb. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Alexis toured the fighter squadron, sat in an F-15E Strike Eagle and received memorabilia and gifts during her visit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Miranda A. Loera)

Capt. Andrew Lawler, 334th Fighter Squadron pilot instructor, shows Alexis “Crusher” Chamberlain, distinguished visitor diagnosed with leukemia, the many functions of the F-15E Strike Eagle during a Pilot for a Day program event, Feb. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Lawler and Capt. Jonathan Martin, 334th Fighter Squadron F-15E Strike Eagle instructor pilots, accompanied Crusher throughout the day, answering questions and ensuring she and her family had a memorable experience at Seymour Johnson AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Miranda A. Loera)

Capt. Andrew Lawler, 334th Fighter Squadron pilot instructor, shows Alexis “Crusher” Chamberlain, distinguished visitor diagnosed with leukemia, the many functions of the F-15E Strike Eagle during a Pilot for a Day program event, Feb. 15, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Lawler and Capt. Jonathan Martin, 334th Fighter Squadron F-15E Strike Eagle instructor pilots, accompanied Crusher throughout the day, answering questions and ensuring she and her family had a memorable experience at Seymour Johnson AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Miranda A. Loera)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --

The 4th Fighter Wing Protocol office partnered with the 334th Fighter Squadron to initiate the Pilot for a Day program to provide children who have serious or chronic conditions, and their families with the opportunity to be a guest of the 4th FW and a fighter squadron for a day.

Seven-year-old Alexis “Crusher” Chamberlain was diagnosed with Leukemia in July 2016. She was chosen to become an honorary pilot and special guest for the day by certified Child Life Specialists at a local children’s hospital.

The day began with a "swearing in" ceremony at the host squadron, officially recognizing “Crusher” as an honorary pilot. Capt. Andrew Lawler and Capt. Jonathan Martin, 334th Fighter Squadron F-15E Strike Eagle instructor pilots, accompanied “Crusher” throughout the day, answering questions and ensuring she and her family had a memorable experience.

The two instructor pilots led a tour of the squadron, air traffic control tower, flight simulator and presented her with her own flight suit, patches and name badge.

After she was geared up, Alexis was in for another surprise. She was led into an aircraft hangar with her own magnetic nameplate to the side of a world famous F-15E Strike Eagle.

“I was so nervous when I saw the plane,” said Alexis. “That was my first time seeing one in person. It was so awesome.”

After seeing his daughter’s reaction to the hospitality of the pilots and her first-hand experience with the Strike Eagle, it brought tears to the eyes of Allen Williams, Alexis’ dad.

“This was such a happy moment for us,” said Williams. “Just seeing how happy this has made her is worth every moment. I know when times get hard, she will look back on this and remember how amazing this day felt to her.”

According to Lawler and Martin, Alexis was full of positivity and smiles from the moment she walked in to the squadron.

“They gave me some shirts, a key chain and this cool suit,” said Alexis. “But my favorite gift of all were these cool coins.”

Alongside the fighter squadron’s memorabilia and gifts, was a set of pilot wing for “Crusher”, presented by Col. Richard Dickens, 4th Operations Group commander.

Pilot for a Day program participants battle a variety of illnesses and diseases, to include terminal illnesses. For many children with severe, but not terminal illnesses, the program is a significant milestone in their recovery.

“We host these events based on a genuine desire to do so,” said Martin. “To think that a few hours of time can create a bright moment for a young child in need is an emotional event for us. It's easy in our profession to get lost in the grind. We are so fortunate and privileged for the opportunity to work with someone like "Crusher." It is humbling to see what strength and bravery truly look like.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.