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Mio-Native Thunderbird Called ‘Hometown Hero’ By Family Back Home

"It was something he wanted to do. He just wanted to be part of the team and he made it."

He started as an Oscoda County Country Boy, then found his wings.

A member of the high-flying demonstration squadron’s team, he’s set to help them wow crowds up north this weekend.

Dylan Stefani, age 26, is a flight chief for the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and has been in the Air Force for nearly six years.

Before that, though, he was a country kid from Mio with big dreams.

9&10’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Jacob Johnson met Dylan’s parents this afternoon who now tell his story.


“When he’s out of uniform, he’s just like everybody else,” says John Stefani, Dylan’s father. “He’s just a country boy, just like everyone else around here."

Dylan Stefani’s mother and father have watched their son every step of the way.

From a linebacker and Mio Thunderbolt to Air Force Thunderbird…

“He’s born and raised right here in town,” John says. “He went to Mio Au Sable School and High School. He graduated from there. He went to Northern for a year. He said, Dad, this isn’t for me. I went and joined the Air Force."

“As a little kid, he had all his G.I. Joes and I still have the casualties of war, all of his broken G.I. Joes and little G.I. Joe footlockers,” says Pam Stefani, Dylan’s mother. “That’s what he did."

Dylan’s interests have always seemed to fly sky high.    

It’s something his mother remembers from early on.

“I remember going to Florida and having to go to the Warbird Museum every year and he had to go there and sit in the actual planes and play with the instrument panels, from three years old,” Pam says.

He joined the Air Force nearly six years ago.

Dylan is now a staff sergeant — a tactical aircraft maintenance flight chief with the Thunderbirds.

“He’s been all over the world, places that I’ll never have the chance to see,” John says. “I’m proud of him for that. There’s a lot of opportunity out there for him."

“He’s got to see so much, because if he never would have went to the Air Force, he would have been here in Mio and probably working at this shop,” Pam says. “So I’m very proud of what he has done."

…Pride his parents hold high as Dylan works to help put on a show.

“He’s our hero,” John says.

“I’m extremely proud of him,” Pam says. “He’s just a handsome kid and he’s single!"