California National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing salute Bay Area front-line workers fighting COVID-19 on Memorial Day

ByKris Reyes KGO logo
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Bay Area front-line workers receive high-flying salute
Part of the campaign, #AmericaStrong, the California Air National Guard flew over Bay Area in honor of front-line and essential workers this Memorial Day. Healthcare workers were touched by the thoughtful gesture.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KGO) -- The 129th Rescue Wing of the California Air National Guard out of Mountain View performed two flyovers on Memorial Day as part of the campaign #AmericaStrong, a joint effort by the US Navy and US Air Force to honor healthcare workers and first responders on the frontlines of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"The Wing airmen and I offer our sincerest gratitude to all the healthcare workers, first responders, service members, other essential personnel and all their families who have put our communities first by serving on the front lines during this pandemic," said Col. Taft O. Aujero, commander, 129th Rescue Wing. "These flyovers are for you, as we salute you for your service and sacrifice.

Here's what Bay Area residents would've seen -- an aerial formation including one HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters. The flight pattern was specifically tailored to flyover Bay Area medical facilities.

The route for the Memorial Day flyover tribute included, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, VA Palo Alto Health Care, Stanford Hospital, Mills Health Center, UCSF Medical Center at Mount Zion, Sutter Health Novato Community Hospital and Alameda Hospital.

"We are honored to do this basically to show the military's appreciation for the people on the frontlines of this COVID battle," said Col. Jeff Waldman with the California Air National Guard.

Both vets and healthcare workers looked on at VA Palo Alto Medical Center, touched by the salute.

"It lets our health care workers that they are appreciated by our military. Our military workers have given us every freedom and now our health careworkers have to answer the bell to make sure everybody is safe," said Thomas Fitzgerald, a veteran and hospital director at VA Palo Alto Medical Center.

The campaign #AmericaStrong launched in April, conducting flyovers all over the country to show solidarity with healthcare workers. The flyover, extra meaningful to many at the VA Palo Alto Medical Center because it falls on Memorial Day.

"The primary purpose of Memorial Day is to actually honor soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines that did not make it home from combat," said Dr. Dean Winslow, professor at Stanford University and a healthcare worker at VA Palo Alto Medical Center. "To couple it with this very beautiful, meaningful flyover is certainly a very nice gesture."