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News > Local teen earns his wings during Pilot for A Day
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Tristan Morse, center, the Patriot Wing’s Pilot for A Day, gets a tour of the Westover Tower and a view of aircraft traffic in the area on one of the monitors. (photo by SrA. Alexander Brown)
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Local teen earns his wings during Pilot for A Day

Posted 3/1/2013   Updated 3/1/2013 Email story   Print story


by SrA. Alexander Brown
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/1/2013 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- Tristan Morse, a 14-year-old boy from Springfield, Mass., was the fourth person honored as Westover's Pilot for A Day Jan. 5.

As Tristan walked to the Base Hangar stage during Commander's Call to receive an award from Col. Steven Vautrain, 439th Airlift Wing commander, the young man's determination moved the entire Patriot Wing to a standing ovation.

Tristan has battled cerebral palsy since age 2. But he never let his condition slow him down. Unable to walk for many years, he pushed through hard and painful physical therapy to progress from using a walker to walking unassisted.

At age 7, the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston introduced Tristan to sledge hockey. He fell in love with the sport and later became the youngest member of the Connecticut Wolf Pack. He hopes some day to compete on the U.S. Para Olympics team.

When he turned 8 years old, immobilizing muscle lengthening surgery benched the outgoing youth. He didn't let this dampen his spirits. After a summer of hard work, he was up walking again; and playing sledge hockey.

His strong character helped earn him a visit to Westover.

During Pilot for A Day, Tristan and his family got to experience much of what the base mission is. He and his family viewed the base from the control tower, toured the maintenance squadron, controlled robots at explosive ordinance disposal, aimed down M-16 sights at security forces, and learned about fighting fires at the fire department.

Tristan's steadfast spirit was with him throughout his day at Westover. He never asked for help while climbing stairs, refused to use his crutches and participated in every activity. He asked everyone he met questions and smiled throughout his Pilot for A Day tour.

"I liked it all," Tristan said, as he donned an Air Force pilot's jacket and nervously awaited his on-stage debut at Commander's Call. "This was the most interesting thing I've done."

3/2/2013 5:39:22 AM ET
Tristan had such an amazing time. I can not find the words to thank everyone who participated in his day You made him feel so amazing. He will never forget it . Thank you so much to everyone.
Ana Morse, United States
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