“Mac” Gallegos was only 5 when his father, Army Sgt. Justin Gallegos, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t think about him. On days like Jan. 24, his father’s 31st birthday, he gets a little help to honor his memory.
“I wanted to write my dad a letter and get it as close to heaven as possible,” said Mac.
Mac and his mother Amanda Marr discussed ways to get the letter to heaven but ultimately decided that having someone fly it in a jet airplane would be the best.
“I posted on Facebook that we were looking for a pilot who could fly the letter for Mac,” said Marr.
The co-founders of a veteran’s group, Helping American Veterans Experience Alaska (HAVE Alaska), wrote saying they wanted to help. Since 2010, Kyle and Carla Moxley have been providing opportunities for Veterans to experience hunting and fishing excursions in Alaska. (Photo, below, from their Facebook page)
After a few emails and phone calls, Mac and his family were getting a tour of the F-22 Raptor and meeting its pilot, Lt. Col. Brian Baldwin assigned to the 302nd Fighter Squadron. The little boy handed over the letter he had written to his father on red construction paper, his dad’s favorite color. He watched as the plane took off and reached the clouds.
“It is an honor to fly with Mac’s letter,” said Baldwin. “His father gave the greatest sacrifice to our country and I am humbled to be able to do something for him and his family.”
Mac and his family have baked cupcakes waiting at home for a birthday ceremony on the ground.
“Over the years we always had a party for Justin on his birthday,” said Mac’s mother, who grew up in Alaska and resides in Anchorage. “As Mac has gotten older we have turned it into a day where we do “Acts of Service” for others.”