Michigan National Guard Aviation supports ‘Bucket List’ request for local youngster

Conrad Huntley receives words of encouragement from his parents, Jason and Heather Huntley, while sitting in the crew chief’s seat of a Blackhawk helicopter static display set up in his honor, Wednesday, June 15, 2016, in Howell, Mich. Seeing a military helicopter and meeting the flight crew was one of the items on Huntley’s “bucket list” and bringing a smile to an ill youngster was something Michigan National Guard aviators were happy to oblige. (Michigan National Guard photo by Lt. Col. William Humes/Released)I>

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Story written by Lt. Col. William Humes JFHQ Public Affairs

LANSING, Mich. — Aviators from the Michigan National Guard provided support to a “Bucket List” request Wednesday by conducting a static display in his backyard. A Blackhawk crew from the Grand Ledge-based Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, landed in Howell, Mich., the hometown of Conrad Huntley, so he and his family and friends could see the helicopter and crew up close. Conrad is dealing with an undiagnosed tumor and some loved ones requested the event as a way to cheer him up.

“Crews were lining up to support this mission,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Nick White, the pilot in command for the mission, “and I consider myself lucky to be the one to be selected.”

The other Michigan National Guard Aviation crew members on board included Chief Warrant Officer 2 Bryan Zischke, who flew the mission as co-pilot, and Sgt. John Sheehan, who served as the mission crew chief.

Sheehan is technically assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment, but he eagerly offered his time for this special event. “I have kids of my own and my heart goes out to the parents,” said Sheehan, “and of course we are thrilled to be able to provide a few minutes of respite for Conrad.”

Zischke noted that the crew needed training time as part of their annual requirement, so the mission actually served a dual purpose. “Seeing the look on Conrad’s face when we put him in the pilot’s seat was priceless,” said Zischke, “and being able to meet an existing training requirement for us made it a win-win situation. It’s great when missions come together that way.”

Approximately 150 friends, family members and volunteers were on hand to participate in the static display. After receiving an information briefing about the helicopter, members of the crowd took photos with the Blackhawk and asked crew members specifics about the helicopter and their missions.

Near the completion of the visit, the crew presented Conrad with a Michigan National Guard ‘swag-bag’ that included a first-aid kit, unit baseball hat and a poster signed by members of the unit.

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