ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Col. Scot Heathman is described as compassionate, personable, and filled with positivity by his comrades in the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base. He's had a military career full of successes, but not without adversity.
From a young age, Heathman knew he wanted to fly. In fact, he got inspiration a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far, away.
"It was Star Wars. Yes I’m a bit of a nerd," he said. "When you see a movie like that when you’re young, when you see that X-Wing fighter or that Millennium Falcon, you’re like, 'That's what I want to do.'"
After more than a decade of flying missions, he took on more leadership roles in the Air Force, eventually landing at SAFB in June of 2019. His journey wasn't that simple. His life changed dramatically six months before arriving in southern Illinois - it was discovered he had a brain tumor.
What he did, bolstered by the strength of his family and friends, was push forward with his move to Scott Air Force Base while the tumor in his brain gradually got bigger. Heathman endured a 10-hour surgery in early 2020 where doctors removed most of the tumor. In the weeks and months after the surgery, the commander worked to regain command of his body.
The KMOV Surprise Squad got word of Heathman's story and wanted to give him a surprise of a lifetime, which a little help from his colleagues and family.