PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
While most 17-year-olds are asking for a new cell phone for Christmas one teenager from Savannah, Georgia, who is facing a critical illness, got his Christmas wish early; to train with U.S. Air Force pararescuemen.
Jack Sanders and his family were invited to Patrick Air Force Base, Florida for five days starting Dec. 12, 2018, to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a pararescueman.
Jack was diagnosed with congenital heart disease and submitted his wish through Make-a-Wish Georgia who helped coordinate the event, with the help of Pararescueman from the 351st Special Warfare Training Squadron out of Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, and JCB North America.
“Jack is an incredible young man who was very engaged during his visit,” said Master Sgt. Chris Trisko, Jack’s pararescucueman liaison and 351st SWTS instructor flight chief. “I’m sure it meant a lot to him.”
During his stay, Jack toured the 308th Rescue Squadron where he got to meet pararescuemen and see the equipment they use for conducting combat-search-and-rescue operations. He also attended a flight briefing with the 301st Rescue Squadron where he learned about the pilots and special mission aviators who fly aboard HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.
Jack said he wanted to be a pararescueman after his friend told him about his pursuit to join the Air Force. Although this was Jack’s first time meeting a pararescueman, he is no stranger to military service since his grandfather served in the U.S. Army for more than 20 years.
“I really like PJs because of their mission,” Jack added. “Jumping out of an airplane to rescue somebody sounds awesome.”
Other events included spending time with the Department of Defense Human Space Flight Support Office and witnessing pararescuemen perform static line jumps from an aircraft into the Banana river.
“My favorite part of the trip was getting the opportunity to spend time with all the PJs and the PJ students,” Jack said.
Airmen from the 351st SWTS were here to conduct maritime training.
“I’m glad we got the opportunity to hang out with Jack and help fulfil his
wish,” Trisko said.