Ho'okele Staff | Jul 07, 2012
15th Wing Public Affairs
As entertainer Bill Cosby would likely testify, kids can say some unexpected things. That’s why it surprised some in the flight deck of the KC-135 Stratotanker simulator at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) that Rosco Rebibis, a “year old” cancer patient at Kapi’olani Medical Center, decided to forego the usual “oohs” and “aahs.” Instead, with the poise of an experienced flier, he immediately addressed his “passengers.”
“Attention everyone, this is your captain speaking. We will be taking off in 3…2…1…”
Rosco toured different areas of JBPHH as a guest of the “Pilot for a Day” (PFAD) program hosted by the 96th Airlift Squadron.
According to Capt. Johna-than Walker, Pilot for a Day director from the 96th Air Refueling Squadron, PFAD provides an opportunity for members of the U.S. Air Force to reach out to the community and allow children battling diseases to obtain a reprieve from their battles, if only for a day. They get the chance to come see the base, enjoy being a kid, and witness some of the “big-kid” toys Airmen play with every day.
Rosco’s grandfather, Mel DeCasa, said Rosco was first diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a common form of cancer in children, in October 2010.
“When we first found out, of course we were devastated but, according to the doctors, they have a better recovery rate at his age,” he said. “We actually thought he was going to be gone in a couple months when he was diagnosed.”
DeCasa said it has been a long road to recovery for Rosco. However DeCasa said that Rosco hasn’t changed a bit, despite suffering through a debilitating illness.
“He was really sick. He lost a lot of weight, lost a lot of hair,” he said. “Since then he’s obviously gotten a lot better. The illness hasn’t changed his personality at all. If anyone had to fight this, he’s a perfect candidate.”
During his visit, Rosco was able to “fly” in a KC-135 simulator, operate a bomb disposal robot, learn about aircrew flight equipment, and receive a firsthand tour of a KC-135.
Walker said Air Force community outreach events like PFAD are not only designed to help kids escape what can sometimes be a painful and exhausting recovery process, it fosters trust and cooperation between Airmen and the community in which they operate.
“Whether it’s opening our doors to (the community) or letting them see what we do on the inside…it provides a good testimony to the community and al-lows us to work together to have a better overall relationship,” Walker said. “We’re in their community, and we’ll do anything we can to help.”