Air Force celebrates healthcare workers with Friday flyovers

Updated: May. 1, 2020 at 11:14 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - "Because of your efforts to combat COVID-19, we are able to accomplish our mission to defend this nation,” said Col. Russell Driggers, the 80th FTW Commander. “To all the health care professionals and essential personnel thank you for your long hours, hard days and commitment to the fight.”

If you live in Texoma, it’s likely you saw or at least heard the Sheppard Air Force Base aircrafts fly over hospitals from Lawton to Wichita Falls.

"Its a great opportunity for us to say thank you to everyone across the Texoma region. We are looking at all the medical professionals, first responders,” said Col. Clayton Bartels, the 80th FTW Vice Commander.

"These are truly the warriors who have been putting the fight since this pandemic kicked off. So from the sky, we have the opportunity to say thanks,” said Col. Kenyon Bell, Escalation Commander at Sheppard AFB.

Col. Bell said during this pandemic a lot has changed operations wise on base, and being able to adapt can be credited to these essential workers.

"We can not do our mission at Sheppard if our health care professionals, essential to mission personnel who work out in the community don’t do theirs,” said Col. Bell.

During the flyover, doctors, nurses and staff at CCMH, SWMC and United Regional were able to take a well-deserved break and watch these planes soar in their honor.

"Having those individuals recognize our team, it’s just incredibly special,” said United Health Care President and CEO Phyllis Cowling.

"They thanked us from the pilot down to the ground here so we could here it...That was really special,” said Chris Ward, the CCMH Chief Nursing Officer.

That message before the flyover was relayed from the lead pilot Col. Russell Driggers, and he thanked these workers for their dedication, and bravery.

"Thank you for your continued efforts. We know this fight wont be over for along time so keep your head, and keep doing what you do best,” said Col. Driggers.

And even though this was an opportunity for the health care workers to be thanked, Cowling said more than that it showed true Texoma unity.

"Health care workers, Sheppard, and the entire Texoma region, we are all in this together and together we’ve got this,” said Cowling.

Friday morning, Altus Air Force Base’s Mighty 97th wowed the state with a massive flyover above the Oklahoma City Metro before heading to southwest Oklahoma.

As it worked out, they flew right over our 7News studio before making their way through Lawton to salute health care workers... eventually doing the same for their neighbors in Altus.

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