Navy Rear Admiral Mark Fox rarely gets a chance to meet new pilots. He spends most of his time facing the formidable task of commanding the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at Naval Air Station Fallon, home to the famous TOPGUN program.
But Admiral Fox recently scheduled time for one recruit – 7-year-old Brett, who is diagnosed with a soft-tissue cancer. Brett’s visit to NAS Fallon was part of granting his wish to be a pilot.
Turning Brett’s high-flying wish into reality also involved Navy personnel. The men and women serving in all branches of the armed forces have proven to be enthusiastic wish granters, and NAS Fallon’s staff upheld that tradition.
Brett’s Make-A-Wish® experience starts by helping to raise the flag. He then receives his own flag before meeting with Admiral Fox - a decorated and experienced pilot.
“He doesn't really understand the concept of ranks, but the time Rear Admiral Mark Fox spent with us was a big surprise and very generous,” Brett’s mother, Adele, tells Navy journalists.
Brett’s talk with the admiral set the stage for the rest of his day. He wears his own custom flight jacket as he inspects supersonic fighters, surveillance planes and helicopters with Commander Paul Olin, TOPGUN director. Commander Olin then escorts Brett to a rare and amazing experience – the chance to fly an F-16 Viper simulator.
Brett takes charge and grabs the controls, which are an exact replica of the Viper’s cockpit.
The next day he meet instructors from the Navy Sea, Air and Land Forces (SEALs), tours the Joint Close Air Support building and watches the carefully orchestrated air operations from the air operations tower.
Brett’s two-day Navy experience gives him incredible memories and the reassurance that people care about him – even if they’ve just met him for the first time. And he passed his joy along to the people who made it possible for his wish to come true.
“We were very happy to have the chance to host Brett and his family,” says Chief Operations Specialist Wes Plount, a TOPGUN staff member, in a Navy publication.