Reserve A-10 Pilot dads partner with Children's Mercy Hospital for vitual pilot tour

  • Published
  • By Maj. Shelley Ecklebe

Lt. Col. John “Sapper” Tice and Maj. Ben “Shiner” Gardner, A-10 reserve pilots and Kansas City residents, have had a long-standing relationship with Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, and when asked to provide a virtual demonstration via video conference for the kids at the hospital they both said yes immediately.

“Both Shiner and I have had kids that have been patients at Children’s Mercy and the medical professionals there are just phenomenal,” Tice said. “They took care of our children when we needed them and this is a little way for us to give back to what they have given to our families.”

Due to COVID-19, an in-person visit was not feasible, so the two pilots decided to put together a demonstration of their gear and show the kids what A-10 pilots typically wear and carry with them in the airplane.

Tice donned his G-suit, vest, and helmet and both he and Gardner explained the physiology behind wearing the gear in addition to answering the most asked question any 7-10 year old would have, “What do you do if you have to go to the bathroom?”

 “Shiner, go grab a bottle of Gatorade.” said Tice “Today’s fighter pilots go to the restroom in what is called a ‘piddle pack’ which converts liquid into a gel for disposal”.

“This allows us to stay hydrated while flying and ensures we stay at our peak performance” said Gardner. “Fighter pilots also love snacks and while the vest’s main purpose is to store essentials, like flares in case we need to signal for help, we also make sure to throw in a few granola bars in case we get hungry.”  

The children were able to phone in from their rooms and ask questions about being in the military or being a fighter pilot. The best phone call, however, came in the form of a statement at the end of the demonstration from one young girl who said, “I don’t have a question. I just wanted to let you guys know you are awesome!”

“No, you all are awesome” both Tice and Gardner said in unison. 

“We love Kansas City. We chose to live here and put down roots because of the community, amenities the town provides, the top notch medical services, and overall quality of life,” said Gardner. “We look forward to continuing the partnership we have with Children’s Mercy on a regular basis.”

“It’s great what you all can do for us virtually in the community. We appreciate it and the kids truly appreciate it as well” said Trista, a spokesperson for Children’s Mercy Hospital.

The 303rd Fighter Squadron pilots look forward to partnering with the hospital on a quarterly basis and hope they can visit in-person again soon.