GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Seymour Johnson Air Force Base made a wish come true Wednesday for one young cancer patient.
Seven-year-old Wilmington resident Alexis “Lexi” Chamberlain allowed her dad on board – and to get behind the controls of an F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet.
The 334th Fighter Squadron hosted Lexi for a private mission to celebrate her remission. Lexi was diagnosed with type B acute lymphoid leukemia on July 21, 2016, her mother Ashley Williams said.
She began treatment immediately and was airlifted from New Hanover Regional Medical Center to UNC Hospital and spent two weeks there and underwent many chemotherapy treatments. Another biopsy a few months later found her to be in remission. Her mom says Lexi is still doing weekly chemo treatments, and starting in the spring, she will start monthly treatments through October 2018.
“It’s been rocky roads lately, so this has definitely been a sunny day despite the rain and all,” said Allen Williams, Lexi’s father.
The squadron gave Lexi the pilot name “Crusher” for crushing her chemo treatments. She was also able to tour the control tower and aircraft.
The commander presented her with pilot wings.
“Hopefully it creates a good memory for her, and selfishly I think it’s a little more rewarding for us in the squadron,” said Capt. Jonathan Martin.
Some of the airmen who took Lexi on her tour had combat experience in the Middle East, but said they aspire to have her courage. Some said they’ve never been through anything as scary as what Lexi has gone through.
“We’re trained for that. I don’t think anybody’s trained to handle a situation like Crusher has,” Capt. Andy Lawler said.
Members of the squadron said Lexi has the fighting spirit of a warrior.
“It’s easy to get kind of bogged down, and when you see a young child like Crusher and some of the bravery and courage, it’s just a reminder of what you go to work for every day,” Capt. Martin said.
One day with the 334th Fighter Squadron was enough for Lexi.
“Think you might be a pilot one day?” her dad asked.
Lexi shook her head no and said “Hm-mm.” So that’s a no.
Lexi is just the second “Pilot For a Day” in several years at Seymour Johnson.
Base staff said they hope to hose these events more regularly for other sick children.