A Letter for Dad

Lt. Col. Brian Baldwin, an F-22 pilot with Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Fighter Squadron at JB Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, carried precious cargo in his flight suit during a sortie from the base last week: a boy’s letter to his deceased dad. MacAidan Gallegos was only five years old in 2009 when his father, Army Sgt. Justin Gallegos, died in combat in Afghanistan. Jan. 24 would have been Justin’s 31st birthday. Mac decided to do something special. “I wanted to write my dad a letter and get it as close to heaven as possible,” said Mac in Elmendorf’s Jan. 28 release. After Mac’s mother, Amanda Marr, reached out on Facebook, the group Helping American Veterans Experience Alaska stepped up, according to the release. Following a few phone calls and emails, Mac, Amanda, and Mac’s stepfather, Army MSgt. Jeremy Marr, were invited to Elmendorf. During the visit, Mac met Baldwin and handed over the letter—written on red construction paper, his dad’s favorite color—to the Raptor pilot. “It is an honor to fly with Mac’s letter,” said Baldwin before his Jan. 24 sortie. “His father gave the greatest sacrifice to our country and I am humbled to be able to do something for him and his family.” (Elmendorf report by Capt. Ashley Conner)