Making wishes come true

  • Published
  • By Linda Welz
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs

Reserve Citizen Airmen assigned to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, California, stepped in, last minute, to help fulfill wishes for two Make-A-Wish kids and their families as part of the March Field Air & Space Expo here.

Jacob Grimstead, 15, and Jose Roldan, 6, were scheduled to visit the base to watch the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as the demonstration team rehearsed its show Friday, April 6, 2018. The performance was supposed to be followed by a meet and greet session with the elite pilots in their tent at show center.


Sadly, the Thunderbirds canceled their show with March ARB after a mishap April 4, in which they tragically lost one of their pilots, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, Thunderbird #4.


With less than two days to find an alternative for the special guests, Team March members rallied, and joined forces with the Los Angeles Police Department’s aviation unit to make some wished come true.


When the families arrived at the base, they met Capt. Jon Milmann, C-17 aircraft commander, 729th Airlift Squadron, who escorted them to a static C-17 Globemaster III for a private tour.


Grimstead and Roldan climbed up into a huge, military vehicle that was secured in the jet’s cargo bay for some photos before climbing up into the flight deck with Milmann for some flight instructions.


While the families were occupied with the Globemaster tour, other arrangements were being discussed between Capt. Perry Covington, 452 AMW public affairs officer, and pilot officer Adam Greenburg, Los Angeles Police Department Air Support Division (ASD).


“We were here with our static helicopter when we were approached by Capt. Covington asking for support because of the cancellation of the meet and greet with the Thunderbirds,” said Greenburg. “He wanted us to show the kids and their families the static but we asked if it was ok for us to get permission to fly them.”


Capt. Sean Parker, ASD commanding officer, and Lt. Todd Turner, ASD granted permission to fly the kids. Airfield management approved the request. A few minutes later came the call from LAPD that they were ready for the special guests. 


Both families walked to the LAPD helicopter where Grimstead and Roldan gladly accepted a short flight around the immediate air space, each escorted by an adult family member. Grimstead even sat in the right seat, wearing one of the pilot’s helmets, and operated the siren in flight.


They flew three, fast, low passes over the airfield.


“When we landed, the looks on their faces was amazing,” Greenburg said.  “The teen (Grimstead) was asking questions about everything. He performed the complete shut down when we landed. It was our honor to be able to do that.”


Before the families left, Greenburg pinned the two special guests with wings for having completed a flight, and invited the families to come to LAPD for a tour of their heliport and possibly a flight over the city, which includes a flyby of the Hollywood sign.


“Jacob and my husband are thrilled to have this opportunity,” said Sarah. “Jacob had cancer and recently went into remission. He wants to join the Air Force but has to have five years in remission before that can happen,” she added.


The family plans a return trip to the base over the weekend to see the entire show and visit the Air Force Reserve Recruiter’s interactive set up, where Grimstead hopes to explore Cyberspace Command’s opportunities for his future.


“It has been an amazing experience for us all and we really appreciate everyone’s kindness,” said Sarah.



Editor’s note: The LAPD’s ASD is the largest municipal airborne law enforcement organization in the United States and operates from the LAPD Hooper Heliport. It’s Air Support Angel’s Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, and an all-volunteer support agency run by officers where 100% of all donations go directly to ASD. Its mission is to inspire the people of Los Angeles to make a difference in their lives and of those at Air Support Division through financial generosity for the purpose of providing education and enrichment to the personnel of the Division, which in turn provides improved service to the community.