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F-22 pilot flies boy's letter to his late father 'close to heaven'

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Joint Base Richardson-Elmendorf pilot in Anchorage, Alaska, carried out a very special mission on Thursday, after hearing about a unique request from a 9-year-old boy who had lost his father. 

Army Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. His son MacAidan, who goes by "Mac,"was 5 years old at the time. Every year on Jan. 24, his father's birthday, MacAidan and his mother celebrate by doing something special like baking cupcakes or throwing a party. But this year, MacAidan, now 9 years old, decided to celebrate differently. He recently wrote a letter to his father that included 10 very important questions.

"Dear Dad," it read. "I have some questions. What is it like in a tank? What is like to be a scout? How old are you now? How old were you when you died? What is your favorite food? What is your favorite animal? What is your favorite hobby? What is your favorite activity? What is it like in heaven? Have you seen what I have accomplished? From, your son."

But Mac wasn't finished. He said that he wanted to try and get the letter as close to heaven as he could. His mother, Amanda Marr, put a post on her Facebook page describing Mac's request, and it caught the attention of Helping American Veterans Experience Alaska, or HAVE Alaska, an organization that decided to help make Mac's wish happen. 

On Thursday, MacAiden met reserve F-22 pilot Lt. Col. Brian Baldwin. He said he handed over his note, hand-written on red construction paper. Red was his father's favorite color.

"I said, 'I hope he gets as high as he possibly can,'" Mac said

The flight happened on Jan. 24 — his father's birthday. 

"I wanted to write a letter because I wanted to know more about my dad and to show that I didn't forget him and to show that I also love him," Mac said.

Mac plans to write a letter to his father every year and says he is still coming up with delivery ideas for next January.

To read the original story from KTUU.com, click here.

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