HomeNewsArticle Display

`Swoosh’ welcomed as 334th FS pilot for a day

Airman 1st Class Luke Locken, a 4th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, fits Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th Fighter Squadron pilot for a day, with flight gear during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. PFAD organizers chose the call sign “Swoosh” for Jeremiah as an allusion to his admiration for his favorite basketball player, Lebron James. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

Airman 1st Class Luke Locken, a 4th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, fits Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th Fighter Squadron pilot for a day, with flight gear during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. PFAD organizers chose the call sign “Swoosh” for Jeremiah as an allusion to his admiration for his favorite basketball player, Lebron James. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

Airman 1st Class Luke Locken, a 4th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, adjusts night vision goggles on Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th Fighter Squadron pilot for a day, during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Jeremiah was never expected to live past his first birthday, but has celebrated nine. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

Airman 1st Class Luke Locken, a 4th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, adjusts night vision goggles on Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th Fighter Squadron pilot for a day, during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Jeremiah was never expected to live past his first birthday, but has celebrated nine. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

Capt. Adam Luber, a 334th Fighter Squadron pilot, briefs Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th FS pilot for a day, on their “mission” during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Luber explained the “Top Secret” mission to his crewmate before they headed outside to their jet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

Capt. Adam Luber, a 334th Fighter Squadron pilot, briefs Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th FS pilot for a day, on their “mission” during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. Luber explained the “Top Secret” mission to his crewmate before they headed outside to their jet. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th Fighter Squadron pilot for a day, waves to his family from the cockpit of an F-15E Strike Eagle during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. The 9-year-old was rarely without a smile for the entire day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th Fighter Squadron pilot for a day, waves to his family from the cockpit of an F-15E Strike Eagle during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. The 9-year-old was rarely without a smile for the entire day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

Capt. Adam Luber, a 334th Fighter Squadron pilot, and Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th FS pilot for a day, watch F-15E Strike Eagles on the flightline during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Jeremiah described Luber as “awesome.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

Capt. Adam Luber, a 334th Fighter Squadron pilot, and Jeremiah Seaberry, the 334th FS pilot for a day, watch F-15E Strike Eagles on the flightline during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day event, April 3, 2015, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Jeremiah described Luber as “awesome.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Ashley J. Thum)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) -- He's nine years old, loves basketball, and has a heart as big as his smile.

Jeremiah Seaberry, also known by his call sign "Swoosh," was made an honorary member of the 334th Fighter Squadron during a 4th Fighter Wing Pilot for a Day (PFAD) event, April 3.

Immediately upon his arrival to the squadron, Swoosh was welcomed into the 334th FS with a flight suit, patches and a complete mission brief for him and his family by Capt. Kat Frost, the PFAD project officer.

Swoosh also met his crewmate for the day, Capt. Adam Luber, a 334th FS pilot, while at the squadron. The two became quick friends as Jeremiah experienced firsthand the life of an Air Force fighter pilot, from gearing up in a helmet and G-force compression pants to flying sorties in an F-15E Strike Eagle simulator.

"Captain Luber is awesome," Swoosh said.

To see him running around the squadron's crud table with Luber, grinning from ear-to-ear while using his flight suit's oxygen hose as a microphone to sing into, one would find it hard to believe that Swoosh wasn't expected to live past his first birthday. Although he has exceeded expectations, Swoosh continues to suffer from severe sickle cell disease.

"It's stunted his growth, and his body will mature later than other children his age," said Portia Seaberry, Swoosh's grandmother. "He knows he's different and it has affected the way he looks at himself in comparison with other children."

Frost said the PFAD program was designed specifically for children just like Swoosh.

"This program is for children who have experienced some type of difficulty in their life, whether that's because of illness or a disability," Frost said. "We work with the 4th Medical Group and medical providers in the local community to identify children that qualify for and may be interested in this opportunity."

Swoosh may deal with the pain and other obstacles, but he doesn't let that stop him from thinking of others. His caring personality was evident throughout the day as he made sure his family members, Rico, Jerrel, Melissa and his grandmother, were included in the day's activities. He admitted he was surprised he was chosen for the program.

"They picked me out of everybody," was his wide-eyed reaction. "It made me feel special."

Swoosh and Luber made quite a pair, particularly in the flight simulator as they bantered back and forth like true crewmates.

"You got me, Swoosh?," Luber asked from the weapons systems officer seat.

"Yeah, I got you," Swoosh replied.

Their exchanges were punctuated by cheers as Swoosh successfully achieved multiple objectives in the pilot position.

"He was really interested in all of our fighter pilot traditions and I think the whole family enjoyed the day," Frost said. "Knowing we were able to give him these memories that might help him get through some tough times made it one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had."

Swoosh quickly caught on to one particular tradition, using special coins to "challenge" one another. Throughout the day, he gave shy smiles to new acquaintances before slyly producing one of his newly acquired coins in hopes of earning a free soft drink.

Portia was overwhelmed with her grandson being treated, as she called it, "a king for a day."

"To think that they would even consider children who have disabilities and things like that ... I feel like crying," Portia said. "It makes us feel like somebody cares. Thank you all so much. He's going to talk about this from now on."

Swoosh won't have a shortage of stories to share from his day. To cap it off, he and his crewmate "stepped" to an F-15E with his name and call sign temporarily affixed to the nose, and Col. Mark Slocum, the 4th Fighter Wing commander, presented him with flight wings "symbolizing the completion of his pilot training."

When asked how his day went, Swoosh had but one word. "Perfect."

Engage

Facebook Twitter
Explosive Disposal Ordnance (EOD) Airmen are often assigned to some of the most dangerous missions and perform tact… https://t.co/xYc9Ip5psn
Start this year by supporting your #Airmen in their pursuit of #resiliency. Learn about common triggers of invisibl… https://t.co/6gJSfJKvcK
RT @OHNationalGuard: The @180thFW hosted members of the Nigerian Air Force recently Officers visited the 180FW in search of #bestpractice
RT @HiAirGuard: Airmen from 154th Security Forces Squadron became first responders during a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear…
RT @US_SOCEUR: U.S. #airmen assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing perform maintenance on a CV-22B #Osprey aircraft in Szolnok, #Hung
RT @HQ_AFMC: The @AFResearchLab s X-60A program achieved a key developmental #milestone with the completion of integrated vehicle propulsio…
RT @DeptofDefense: If you want to get there as fast as possible, don’t stop for gas. ⛽ That’s why the @usairforce relies on airmen like Tec…
RT @DeptofDefense: Press ▶️ to learn more about @USAFCENT, the command that provides air & space warfighting capabilities to help defeat v…
Airmen with the Puerto Rico Air National Guard provide support at the “tent cities” to support Task Force South and… https://t.co/zg2yT0LqpS
Even the most advanced aircraft in history requires extensive maintenance performed by Airmen on the ground to kee… https://t.co/Kpv8JlzYIc
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Throwback Thursday and #TankerThirstThursday are the same game. Throwing it back to last month when a KC-135 Stratotank…
If you thought the C-5M Super Galaxy was cool before, wait until you hear @RichardHammond describe it and its capab… https://t.co/jbYbdyHx5q
Air National Guardsmen from @105AW are on the ground in Puerto Rico with their counterpart, @PRNationalGuard, provi… https://t.co/ZwzhCEpWY4
RT @HAFB: Join us for the Hill Air Force Base 80th Anniversary Celebration from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Hill Aerospace Museum! A nu…
Ranges are crucial to the training and readiness of our warfighters. Get an inside look at how they prepare to figh… https://t.co/i5CnbpBGAw
.@cmsaf18 and his wingman, Senior Enlisted Advisor to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Chief Master Sergeant… https://t.co/UD69jCjHPz
#AirForce is always looking for ways to improve processes and patient health care is no different. @JBSA_Official h… https://t.co/ysEFjoXYCE
RT @USAF_ACC: You know what day it is. #WarthogWednesday! 🐗👏 #DYK the weapon on the #A10Thunderbolt II is a 30 millimeter GAU-8 and is des…
RT @SpaceForceDoD: Earlier today, @SpaceForceCSO Gen. John W. Raymond became the first ever Chief of Space Operations. @VP Vice President M…
C-17 Globemaster IIIs sit at @March_ARB, where their engines routinely receive special eco-washes to prevent corros… https://t.co/so1CEcJYsP