6-Year-Old Friends Battling Cancer Together, Become Youngest Lieutenants In Air-Force History

Updated November 30, 2017

Kids who are diagnosed with cancer are often an inspiration to us all due to the strength and resiliency that they exhibit while they fight their battle.

Jack Kirkbride and Houston Pirrung have a lot in common. They are both six-years-old, both aviation buffs and both currently undergoing treatment for leukemia at the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The two become fast friends and were known as “battle buddies,” amongst the hospital staff.

While they would often talk about various airplanes and missions that they knew about, they got to experience a U.S. Air Force mission firsthand, thanks to the Pilot for a Day Program. The program is sponsored by the Check-6 Foundation and includes everything a future flyer would need to feel like they truly are a pilot for a day.

Twice a year, the Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC selects a child to become a pilot for the day, and due to their enthusiasm for aviation, Jack and Houston were selected. On Friday, the two boys were honored for their bravery when they visited Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. In addition to getting their own tour inside the cockpit of an aircraft, the boys got to wear their own personalized fighter pilot uniforms for the occasion. They flew an F-16 simulator and even had the opportunity to lead Air Force service members in the Pledge of Allegiance.

For two young boys who love aviation and seldom have an opportunity to get out of the hospital, it was certainly a day to remember and to top it off, they both received Air Force wings.

The video below shows the boys in their glory living life as a pilot. They are both all smiles as they don their pilot gear and have a chance to experience flying a plane in the simulator. When the boys start the day they are greeted by several airmen, who formed two lines for them to walk down. The boys salute the airmen as they pass by in their own personalized flight suits. The boys also get to take an oath with fellow pilots before they receive their wings. The video shows everyone as they stand up and put a hand on their hearts when the boys demand they stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance over the speaker.

The boys met several Air Force service members, as they spent the day touring the base while being stars for a day. Commenters appreciated the sweet moment…

“Such a great story. Thanks. We need more like this one!”

“Youngest lieutenant generals in Air Force history… sweet.”

One of the many reasons why these two boys were so deserving of this special day, is because they have formed a brotherhood very similar to those in the military. Jack and Houston have been through more together than most and they are sure to have a lifelong bond. And one day, maybe the two will have each other’s backs while they are pilot and co-pilot in a real military aircraft. The smiles on their faces proved how grateful they were for the day.