Glenn Schallman suffers from a rare form of brain tumor called hypothalamic hamartoma, which is a benign brain tumor or lesion of the hypothalamus. The tumor is inoperable, and Schallman lives with constant headaches and pain.
However, this has not stopped Schallman from living a happy life. He recently checked off an item on his bucket list when he visited Luke Air Force Base and got to see an F-16 up close.
For Schallman, who is a lifelong resident of Phoenix, this was a dream come true.
“Seeing everything on the F-16, being able to touch the plane and see it getting ready to take off was really special,” he said. “This is a wish come true. It’s number four on the my list of things to do. I had the best time of my life.”
Senior Airman Tyler Strader, 308th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, showed Schallman around the F-16. The intense heat that seemed hot enough to melt the concrete was no comparison, however, to the smile on Schallman’s face as he watched the F-16 prepare for takeoff. For Strader, showing Schallman the F-16 was an honor.
“Just from meeting him, you could tell he genuinely cared about the military and its people,” Strader said. “It was something on his bucket list, he wanted to come see a running jet, to sit in a cockpit, and that is what made me want to do it.”
Bubbling with enthusiasm, Schallman synched his communication equipment with the pilot’s and prepared for an F-16 launch. Schallman closely followed behind Strader as he checked the jet before takeoff.
“He went through a launch, the checks and procedures they perform on aircraft before they send it out,” Strader said. “He was in direct communication with the pilot and crew chief during launch. He got to actually hear what goes on during a real launch.”
Schallman’s eyes opened with amazement as he leaned over the cockpit while a 308th Fighter Squadron pilot explained the functions. He took his final tour of the AMU afterwards, where he was presented with gifts from the squadron.
“He toured our support section, the flightline and was presented with our squadron coin and hat,” Strader said. “He went to the operations building with the pilots and they showed him night vision goggles and other flight equipment. There, they also presented him with a T-shirt and a 20mm round fired from an aircraft.”
It was not only a good time for Schallman, but it was good for Strader as well.
“Not just because of his situation, but when somebody shows that much interest, dedication and support toward their military personnel, it just feels right,” he said. “The public may not have a good picture of what we do here, and it’s good that we show them the work that is being done on base and our mission.
His situation made it more important, but I just think it is good we show people the positive things we do on base.”