JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.— --
Benjamin Lambertson, a local 10-year-old, was recently honored as Pilot for a Day by the 4th Airlift Squadron, receiving a hero's welcome from the moment he arrived at McChord Field Oct. 7.
According to the McChord Field Air Force Association, which is responsible for funding and child nominations, the purpose of the program is to provide a meaningful, positive experience for a medically challenged child (6-14 years old), who has been prohibited from enjoying the normal joys of childhood.
“We really take our jobs here at the AFA very serious,” said Robert Branscomb, AFA Chapter 334 Pilot for a Day chairman. “Our motto is ‘A special day for our special kids,’ and we truly embrace that here at the chapter.”
After multiple trips to the hospital with complains of headaches, Ben was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.
After treatment, Ben’s aneurysm is less than half the size it was and his prognosis is great.
To start the tour off, Ben along with his mother, Michelle, father, Paul, and sister, Maddie were met at the McChord visitor center by Tech. Sgt. Mandy Fessel, 4th AS loadmaster.
Fessel then took Ben and his family back to the 4th AS for a quick meet and greet with members of the squadron and received a brief on their mission for the day.
From there, Ben and his family went over to the McChord Field military working dog kennels, where the family had a chance to interact with the canines and observe working dogs doing some obedience training and bite work.
Once they finished up with the MWD, Ben and his family were shuttled to the McChord fire department for a fire demo, then toured the air traffic control tower. The Lambertson family continued with tours of Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape, and Aircrew Flight Equipment sections.
After finishing up with AFE, the newest 4th AS pilot had lunch with the Air Force Association and members of the 4th AS in their heritage room.
From there, the family received a mission brief before heading over to the C-17 flight simulator.
“I really loved the flight simulator,” said Ben. “We got to fly the plane and do a lot of cool stuff. I could have stayed in the simulator all day.”
As a finale to the day, Ben and his family had the opportunity to see an actual C-17 Globemaster III and take photos in the cockpit before heading back to the 4th AS for cake and ice cream.
“I want to thank the 4th Airlift Squadron, not only for what you do on a daily basis of protecting this country, but for doing something special like this for people who really need something special like this,” said Paul. “You guys do something really special here and this day has really touched us. The fact that you guys do this for a lot of people is truly impressive and kind, and we thank you for that. We will remember this day forever.”