By Senior Master Sgt. Paula Macomber 152nd Airlift Wing
RENO – Honorary Capt. Tennyson “Wizard” Hunter, the Nevada Air
Guard’s first Pilot for a Day, died on February 22 after a long battle with Kabuki
Syndrome. He was 15.
Hunter, or as Nevada Air Guardsmen called him, “Wizard,” – the call sign he received in 2019 during his Pilot for a Day service – touched the heart of every High Roller on the air base during his Pilot for a Day stint. The Pilot for a Day Air Force program that provides chronically-ill children a chance to experience Air Force life. With his jovial spirit and can-do attitude, Hunter made a memorable impact on the base during his one-day military career Dec. 16, 2019.
Wizard had Kabuki Syndrome, a congenital disorder triggered by a genetic mutation that affects multiple organ systems and causes developmental delays. He had over a dozen surgeries throughout his life. He succumbed to complications of his cancer treatment on February 22 while in the arms of his parents.
Renown Children’s Hospital nominated Hunter to be the first Nevada Air Guard Pilot for a Day. Dec. 16, 2019, began with Hunter swearing in for a one-day oath of commission. Pilots briefed him on his “classified” mission before he received a tour of the 152nd Airlift Wing’s C-130 aircraft. He visited the base firehouse, security forces and the Federal Aviation Administration’s air traffic control tower before the day concluded with his retirement ceremony in the wing headquarters’ auditorium.
“Special events like this transcend of our day-to-day tasks,” said Maj. Joseph
Jaquish, who had briefed Hunter’s mission and organized his call-sign ceremony. “The Air Force focuses a lot on metrics, data and other numbers, but some projects go beyond numbers. You can’t quantify this. It was much bigger than that. It felt so nice to be part of something special.
“What made the day so enjoyable was that Capt. Hunter was such a wonderful kid.”Wizard receives call sign
Every Air Force pilot ultimately receives a call sign, but the pilot doesn’t get to choose his/her moniker.
Within hours of his commission, Hunter’s potential call signs were narrowed down to four candidates: henceforth in the Nevada Air Guard, Hunter would be known as either “Kittens Mittens,” “Chef,” “Lotto” or “Wizard.”
The nominees were chosen based on his love of cats, his interest in baking, the airlift wing’s luck in acquiring him, and his affinity for J.K. Rowling’s books and movie series “Harry Potter.” It was a tough choice, but in the end, “Wizard” took flight.
The announcement of Hunter’s call sign — revealed during a ceremony attended by more than 150 Nevada Airmen in the wing’s auditorium — was just one of several special moments Hunter experienced during the 152nd Airlift Wing’s inaugural Pilot for a Day.
The 152nd Airlift Wing is set to host a Pilot for a Day event this December.
For nominations, call the Public Affairs Office at (775) 788-4515.