A young girl’s eyes lit up as three U.S. Air Force pilots spoke about their experience of flying. She asked questions one after the other to learn as much as she could, in hopes to one day be a pilot just like them.
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Melissa Dombrock, 76th Airlift Squadron commander, Capt. Allyson Swift, and Capt. Taylor Stephens, 37th Airlift Squadron instructor pilots, visited the youth pod to meet a young evacuee with dreams of becoming a pilot.
“This is an opportunity to make a difference in a young girl’s future,” Stephens said. “I couldn’t say no to this.”
The three pilots met with the young girl and her two sisters. The girls asked the pilots questions like how to become a pilot and how to join the U.S. Air Force.
“We have a responsibility to pay it forward, as women aviators, for the future,” Dombrock said. “Any opportunity to do that is important because we stand on the shoulders of giants, the women who did this before us. We’re trying to inspire, provide hope, and be there for this young girl.”
The pilots asked the three sisters questions about their plans for the future in the United States.
“I have not seen any other countries yet,” said one evacuee. “I wish to see them all.”
Swift says that when she walks through the pods while volunteering, she has an overwhelming feeling that she could do more. When she received news that she could talk to the young girl, she leapt at the opportunity.
Stephens says helping with Operation Allies Refuge is a large responsibility that has impacted everyone deeply.
“It puts life into perspective,” Swift said. “This girl was speechless and all I could think was ‘I am so blessed. Just to be able to speak to you and impact your future.’”
The pilots say they have high hopes and expectations for the young girls.
As their meeting ended, the pilots gave the young girls patches from their uniforms as a small token to remember them.
“My hope for her is that she goes forwards and knows no limits,” Dombrock said.