JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - “A special day for our
very special kids.” That's the slogan of the McChord Field
Pilot for a Day program, a five-year-old program that gives
medically challenged children, and children in medical
remission from or currently suffering with catastrophic
illnesses, a full day to experience life as a Team McChord
Carver Faull, a 14-year-old Washington
resident and medulloblastoma survivor, became the newest
pilot in the program Feb. 20, 2015 when he joined the 4th Airlift
With his very own flight suit and patches,
and a flight cap with the rank of first lieutenant, Carver
was on his way to see some of the major components of
McChord Field, accompanied by his father, John, mother,
Teresa, and younger sister, Zoe.
Carver Faull (right) explores the buttons in the cockpit of a C-17 Globemaster III with 1st Lt. Brit Reuscher, 4th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Feb. 20, 2015. Carver spent the day with members of McChord Field as part of the Pilot for a Day Program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Chacon)
The first stop was the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, where
Carver climbed aboard a Humvee and took a joy ride with his
family while he sat at the turret, grinning ear-to-ear.
The Airmen of the 22nd STS showed their specialized
equipment to Carver, explained the details of their duties,
including the dangers and the rewards of their tasks, and
showed him their fully-equipped training room.
“This event has been so
important to us,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Guilmain, 22nd
STS superintendent. “We're happy to be a part of it.”
The family continued on to the canine officer kennels at
McChord Field and saw a demonstration of the working dogs'
capabilities as illegal substance detectors and suspect
apprehenders, complete with a display of their biting
When asked if he had any questions about
their training, Carver replied, “Just one ... Can you train
From there, the Faull family headed to
Heritage Hill to meet with members of the 627th Civil
Engineer Squadron's explosive ordnance disposal flight.
“Fire in the hole!” Carver shouted into the radio, and a
few seconds later a loud and very visible explosion was seen
from across the air field.
“That was two and a half
pounds of C-4 that you just detonated,” said Staff Sgt. Evan
Grimme, 627th CES EOD technician, as he handed Carver a
replica amount of C-4.
Next, EOD trained Carver on
how to guide their remote-controlled bomb disposal robot,
and he successfully picked up and disposed of a simulated
“Don't worry, I won't blow you up,” Carver
said to his sister, Zoe.
Their next stop was the air
traffic control tower. Carver was recognized as an honorary
air traffic controller, and received his own call sign and
an ATC badge to put on his flight suit. The family was given
a tour of the tower, including the cat walk, where Carver
looked over the ramps full of McChord Field C-17 Globemaster
“That's what you're going to fly
today,” said his father, as Carver beamed back at him.
After that, it was time for Survival, Evasion,
Resistance and Escape training.
Carver watched a
training video about parachuting, and then he was ready to
He was strapped into a training
harness by a SERE specialist, and fitted with virtual
reality goggles that simulated falling 4,000 feet from an
aircraft. His goal was to navigate the parachute to the
sand, for a soft landing.
From there, the family met
with the 4th Airlift Squadron for a pizza party before
Carver's intelligence briefing.
“This program has a
special place in our hearts. Thank you for being part of our
squadron,” said Lt. Col. Matt Anderson, 4th AS commander, as
they welcomed the Faull's as family and coined Carver with
the 4th AS commander's coin.
chairman of the Pilot for a Day committee, spoke to the
Faull's about the effort that goes into making this program
“This program would not be possible without
the support we get from the 4th AS”, said Branscomb.
“Everything you see, from the flight suit and patches to the
pizza, comes from community awareness and donations and
funding from the McChord Field Air Force Association
chapter, and the squadron plans and executes the entire day.
“We really make a difference in the lives of our Pilot
for a Day lieutenants.”
Carver's mother, Teresa,
welled up with tears as she explained what the day meant to
“For him to be able to do something like this,
after the surgery, after 48 weeks of chemotherapy and all
the struggles, it's really spectacular,” she said. “They
[the 4th AS] took care of everything. We heard about the
program through another family who had a child with cancer,
and they were raving about it, so we contacted Capt. Marc
Meier. After a few questions about Carver and his condition,
they started planning, and a few months later here we are.”
In addition to the memorabilia Carver received and the
events of the day, the family was surprised by another
Carver's medulloblastoma, a highly malignant
type of brain tumor, drastically affected his basic motor
“After all the treatments, he had to
relearn how to walk, how to eat, and how to talk,” said
“Do you remember that big gym at the 22nd
STS? You know, those special tactics guys have a personal
trainer who was formerly in the NFL,” said Anderson. “He
just offered to be your personal trainer, Carver, at your
discretion and as the family sees fit, when you're ready to
get these guns a little bigger.”
As the family and
squadron looked to Carver with smiles on their faces, he
replied, “But I'm only 14!”
After his in-depth
operations, intelligence, and tactics briefing, Carver went
to a static display of the C-17 and then to the C-17 flight
simulator, and was finally able to put his full day's worth
of training to use during his very own mission.
Carver, his family, and all the squadrons involved with the
events of the program, the day and the mission was a huge
“I'm at a loss for words,” said Teresa.
“It's been such an amazing experience.”
More photos available below
By U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Rebecca Blossom
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