PORTLAND, Ore. --
F-15 jets from the Oregon Air National Guard tipped their wings to medical professionals during recent flyovers of Oregon hospitals May 8.
Multiple F-15 Eagle flyovers were conducted over Southwest Washington, as far south as Lakeview and east to Ontario, Oregon, as an aerial salute to Oregonians on the front lines of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response.
Oregon Air National Guard pilots from the 173rd Fighter Wing, based in Klamath Falls and the 142nd Wing, based in Portland conducted the flyovers.
“We are honored to pay tribute to everyone who has served on the front lines during this pandemic,” said Brig. General Donna Prigmore, commander of the Oregon Air National Guard.
“This is a small way of showing our gratitude for the big sacrifices that our healthcare workers, emergency responders, and so many others have made. We thank all of you,” she said.
Capt Matthew Keelin, a Nurse Practitioner with the 142d Medical Group, Detachment-1, said the gesture was greatly appreciated by his fellow medical professionals.
“We are all trying to do what’s best for the most people,” Keelin said. “A strong image of military support [such as the flyovers] for a humanitarian cause carries a strong impression to folks, regardless of any political affiliation or preference.”
Lt Col Shelby Robb, F-15 pilot with the 142d Wing and Portland native said the flyovers were a chance of a lifetime for him. But just like the men and women in the medical field, there’s a lot the public doesn’t see, including mission pre-planning and figuring out the flight path over as many hospitals as possible.
“There’s a lot of people out there having problems with [their] health,” Robb said. “And these [medical] people are putting themselves at risk to help them. Just like any military member on the front lines, the people in the hospitals are doing great work.”
Maj. Jill Little, Triage Flight Chief with the 142d Medical Group, Detachment-1, was at home in Oregon City with her young son when the jets roared past. She said he was absolutely thrilled by the overhead display.
Little said she doesn’t think the average person realizes the full extent of stress and anxiety medical professionals are currently experiencing during the ongoing pandemic, and saw the flyovers as a gesture to recognize that sacrifice. While she is grateful for the flyovers as a ‘thank you’, she also took the opportunity to thank those men and women in the military.
“The average citizen sees this [flyover] as an amazing thing. I’m impressed by it and grateful for it. It was amazing,” she said. “But I want to also say thank you to the pilots and anyone else in the military.”
Additional Oregon Air National Guard flyovers are scheduled to continue Friday, May 15. The Air Force Salutes flyover plan also includes flyovers from the United States Air Force Thunderbirds demonstration team, which are scheduled to fly over the Pacific Northwest in late May.
If anyone has any video or photos of the F-15s flying overhead please post them on social media and use the hashtags: #AirForceSalutes, #AFFlyover, #FlyoverFriday, #Inthistogether