412th Test Wing’s “Wing-a-Wish” takes flight

  • Published
  • By Laisa Leao
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

Gen. George Patton once said, “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.”

Dean Lomelin is a nine-year-old boy with a rare disorder called Beta-mannosidosis. The disorder affects the way the body breaks down certain sugar molecules which in turn leads to physiological effects. In Dean’s case, it started with hearing loss, but quickly progressed to speech dysfunction, learning disabilities, and more recently, vision impairment. Beta-mannosidosis is progressive with no known cure.

Despite his young age and condition, Dean exemplifies unwavering patriotism, demonstrating profound reverence for and allegiance to the American flag. He had been fascinated with airplanes from a younger age, but over the last couple of years, Dean developed a stronger affinity for the military. He enjoys spending his free time reading and watching movies about America’s military and the wars it fought.

Reflecting on Dean's passion, Lorena Lomelin, his mother, shared, “Last year, all he wanted for Christmas was a military uniform, so that’s what Santa gave him. He is fascinated with uniforms, badges and airplanes.”

Lorena was able to connect with Tech. Sgt. Robert Gregory and Airman 1st Class Matthew Hoover from the 412th Operations Support Squadron, to request a visit to Edwards. Instead of just a tour, Team Edwards came together and planned a very special day for Dean as the first of many Wing-a-Wish. Wing-a-Wish is possible thanks to the private contributions and donations, monetary and in-kind, from the men and women of the 412th Test Wing.

Dean’s day started with his enlistment; he then donned a flight suit and received an honorary military identification card granting him base access. Airman Dean was officially welcomed by the 412th OSS and 412th Force Support Squadron at Base Operations, where he received his newcomer orientation.

Dean’s first assignment was to the Test Parachute Team. Through the virtual parachute jump simulator, Airman Dean jumped from an airplane at 3,000 feet above ground and safely landed on a soccer field.

Subsequently, Dean was then selected to attend the Air Force Test Pilot School where students, instructors, leadership, and the school mascot greeted him with applause. While at TPS, Dean flew an F-16 Fighting Falcon flight simulator through various maneuvers such as inverted flight and loops.

At the conclusion of his TPS training, he attended a promotion ceremony where Col. Douglas Wickert, 412th Test Wing Commander, promoted Dean to the rank of Captain. Wickert pinned Air Force Pilot Wings on Dean’s uniform making him a pilot and christened him with the callsign “Soar” in honor of the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar, an experimental space plane program that was expected to be flown from Edwards AFB in the 1960s, but was canceled just after its construction had begun.

Dean was then afforded a spectacular view of the Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds’” winter practice session from the show center. Dean watched as the “Thunderbirds” performed breathtaking maneuvers and sneak passes.

Dean concluded his day at the Flight Test Museum where he toured the different historical artifacts inside. Upon departing the base, members from Team Edwards came together and stood at attention and rendered their salutes. While it was only a day, Lorena said, “we will be speaking about these memories for a lifetime.”