News: ‘Mighty Eagles’ welcome local boy
Story by Senior Airman Katrina Brisbin
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. - “This day is for you,” said Lt. Col. Martin Daack, 22nd Operations Support Squadron commander, as he placed a McConnell Air Force Base baseball cap on Micah Wemmer’s head.
Micah, 12, visited McConnell AFB to be an honorary “Mighty Eagle” as part of the “Pilot for a Day” program March 25, 2013.
Micah was chosen for the “Pilot for a Day” program through a partnership with Wesley Medical Center. He was diagnosed with leukemia at age 6, and after two and a half years of treatment, he relapsed.
When Micah’s mother, Lisa Waner, had to give him the news of the relapse, it was by far the hardest thing I’ve done, said she said.
“When I told Micah it was back, that was the most horrible day in his life,” said Waner. “After his initial response of anger he said, ‘I did it before. I can do it again.’”
“Pilot for a Day” gives children with serious or chronic medical conditions the opportunity to visit McConnell AFB and be a guest of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing and one of its flying squadrons for a day.
The original "Pilot for a Day" program began in December 1994 and was organized by Capt. Rory Blackburn at Randolph AFB, Texas. Since then, the program has spread to several bases across the country.
“For him and for us, these (programs) are a light in the time that could be a little dim,” said Waner. “Everything he did here today, he’s going to remember forever.”
After two months of planning, the “Mighty Eagles” welcomed Micah and his family with open arms.
The day began with what Warner described as a “great opening ceremony” where Micah received several shirts, patches, a child-sized flight suit and an official McConnell AFB KC-135 Stratotanker baseball cap.
By the end of the ceremony, he was officially considered a member of the 22nd OSS.
From there, Micah’s McConnell AFB experience included touring a KC-135 Stratotanker, operating the KC-135 and boom operator simulator, observing military working dogs, donning fire-protection gear and riding in a fire truck, seeing what it was like on an average day at the air traffic control tower.
Micah’s favorite activity was operating the simulators.
After the tour, he was joined by the rest of the squadron for a pizza party and banana splits.
“It’s a little overwhelming,” said Waner. “the time that everyone here put into doing something like this for someone else. Thank you.”