25th CAB Grants Wish of Terminally Ill Patient

| February 19, 2016 | 0 Comments
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bradley Young showing a terminally ill ALS patient, Natanael Gallardo, a U.S. Army Apache, AH-64E, Feb.11.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bradley Young explains the workings of an Apache helicopter to terminally ill ALS patient Natanael Gallardo, Feb.11.


Story and photos by Capt. Heba Bullock
25th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs


WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade made a dream of touring combat aircraft come true for Natanael Gallardo, a 34-year-old man suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS), Feb 11.

Sgt. 1st Class Randy Rodriguez, 599th Transportation Brigade, is a childhood buddy of Gallardo and was able to help coordinate the exciting day for his terminally ill friend.

“He was really intrigued by all the aircraft going on and off Wheeler Army Airfield and always wanted to get up close and personal,” said Rodriguez. “The leadership was more than willing to come together so we could help him out.”

The brigade wanted to make sure he got the royal treatment, pulling out all of the stops for Gallardo to experience.

“Soldiers helped out with aircraft, driving humvees, bringing out equipment, showing pieces of the aircraft, and took him around to see whatever he wanted to see, “ said Command Sgt. Maj. Gerardo Gonzalez, senior enlisted adviser, 2-6th Cavalry Squadron.

Natanael Gallardo, a terminally ill ALS patient, finalized his tour with the 25th CAB at the simulation center, where he was able to sit in the pilot seat, Feb.11.

Gallardo takes a turn piloting a helicopter flight simulator.

“I am really pleased with how our men and women were able to make this a once-in-a-lifetime experience for this man who is a tough fighter,” he said.

Gallardo started off with a tour at each of the CAB’s hangars and numerous aircraft starting with the Apaches and Black Hawks.

“Someone with ALS has limiting abilities but these Soldiers did not make me feel limited and I was able to get in and out of aircraft,” said Gallardo. “I felt like one of them.”

ALS is a progressive disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Gallardo has been given 2 to 5 years to live by his doctors.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bradley Hoffman and Sgt. 1st Class Randy Rodriguez assisting Natanael Gallardo, a terminally ill ALS patient, aboard a U.S. Army Blackhawk, UH-60M,

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bradley Hoffman and Sgt. 1st Class Randy Rodriguez assist Gallardo, board a UH-60M Blackhawk.

For his grand finale, 255th CAB Soldiers took Gallardo to put his skills to the test in one of the brigade’s flight simulators.

“That was definitely my favorite part because my father was a self-taught crop Cessna pilot in Mexico, so to be able to fly in the simulator was incredible and my closest chance to be like him,” Gallardo said.

“Nata is in heaven right now, especially right now sitting in the pilot seat,” said Geraldo Vargas, cousin of Sgt. 1st Class Rodriguez and care taker of Gallardo, “I think it’s a once in a lifetime experience that he is never going to forget.”

Before Gallardo’s day was over, Gonzalez had a special parting gift to remember his time with the unit.

“He is fighting a hard battle, but he is moving forward and his living his life, so I wanted to present him with a coin on behalf of the brigade, but then I gave him a squadron coin, on the back of it we have written, “presented for embodying the cavalry tradition,” which is to continue to fight on and go forward when its hard,” said Gonzalez.

Sgt. Jon Pew discussing the capabilities of the CH-47 Chinook to Natanael Gallardo, a terminally ill ALS patient, Feb.11.

Sgt. Jon Pew discusses the capabilities of the CH-47 Chinook to Natanael Gallardo, a terminally ill ALS patient, Feb.11.



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Category: Community Relations, News

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