During President Joe Biden’s visit to suburban Crystal Lake this week, the pilots that helped get him to the Windy City gave a local family an experience that they’ll never forget.
It all started while Laura Pedraza was sitting at her home on Tuesday. She says that her family spotted what appeared to be a military aircraft flying overhead.
“We kind of did some research to find out what was going on, and found out that the president was going to be in town the following day,” she said.
Laura, her son Jayden and daughter Nathala then hatched a plan, hoping to see if they could spot the president arriving at Midway International Airport.
“It felt really exciting, and I was also a little bit nervous because I didn’t know what would happen,” 9-year-old Jayden Pedraza said.
The family spotted what appeared to be the Marine One helicopter, and thought that would be the extent of the excitement, but that was just the beginning.
According to the family, the pilots who were flying the V-22 Ospreys, which were escorting the chopper, came over to the fence and began talking to the family.
“They immediately came up and got down to kid-level with the kids,” Laura said. “They told them ‘we transport the president, and it’s really nice to meet you.’”
Before the pilots walked away, they gave the kids something remarkable: unique patches from their military uniforms.
“The fact that they just ripped off their (patches) and just gave it to us was what made the moment for me,” 7-year-old Natahala Pedraza said.
Now, the family is basking in the afterglow of the remarkable show of generosity. Jayden told NBC 5 that he wants to become a Marine or to join the Secret Service, and his sister Natahala says that she wants to become president.
In fact, she has a message for the current occupant of the Oval Office.
“My wish is to meet him and hug him,” she said.
The kids’ mother is still in shock at what occurred at the airport.
“For me as a parent, this is the first time I’ve been able to see something so amazing that happened to them,” Laura said. “We want to find the crewmen and actually send them thank you’s and let them know what that meant for us.”