TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — Aniello Joshua Calisi was a 9-year-old pilot Friday.
The Morgan Hill youngster got a thrill as Travis Air Force Base, in coordination with Make-A-Wish Foundation, made him “pilot for the day.”
It was A.J.’s wish to do something with either the Secret Service, the police or the military.
He got his wish Friday to be an official government agent by suiting up in his very own flight suit complete with a hat, dog tags and official Air Force buttons.
The day started by him riding the large fire truck and helping firefighters “put out a fire” on an airplane. He was then escorted by two real Secret Service agents from the base to have lunch with the wing commander. After lunch, he went up to the control tower at the base and had a bird’s-eye view of the entire area.
He then went on to visit a C-17 Globemaster III, where he helped supervise the loading of a couple of military vehicles and then it was up to the cockpit, where he spent about an hour learning about the controls. The finale was a ride in a C-17 Globemaster III simulator, where he got to “fly” from Honolulu to Oahu.
“The best part of my day was getting in the cockpit.” A.J. said.
A.J. was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia in February 2010 when he was 6. It was around the holidays when his mother, Elizabeth Calisi, noticed he looked pale. At first, she wasn’t concerned since it was a stressful time of year. In December, she took him for a checkup and was told that his iron levels were low, but nothing abnormal.
Two months later, she was picking him up from karate and noticed again that he looked pale. Her instincts told her something was wrong. After being examined at a local clinic they were transferred to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, where they quickly ran tests and first diagnosed him with leukemia.
“He handled everything like a champion,” Elizabeth Calisi said.
In 2011, he was referred to Make-A-Wish and knew exactly what he wanted to do: Be a secret agent.
The idea of becoming a secret agent came when his grandmother helped him create a uniform out of a sweater that had police patches sewn all over it. His uncle is a chief of police on the East Coast. It was while watching the television show “The Good Guys” that he really got the idea of being a law enforcement officer.
It has been a long four years for the family. A few years into treatment, they found out he was hyperglycemia from the chemotherapy. He needed to constantly monitor his blood sugar levels.
“It was just one more thing,” Elizabeth Calisi said, “but he was so great. He learned to check his blood sugar himself and how to count carbohydrates. All without complaining.”
The family moved from New York state to Morgan Hill seven years ago, where his mother owns 8080 Keys Cafe and A.J.’s father owns his own restaurant. The couple divorced a couple of months after A.J. was diagnosed.
It has been a struggle but in May 2013 A.J. learned he is cancer free. For the next five years he will go to Stanford University Medical Center for blood tests but for the moment, he has the all-clear sign.
Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.