HomeNews

Altus, Vance Airmen ‘salute’ Oklahomans fighting COVID-19

U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs assigned to the 58th Airlift Squadron, take off from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in support of essential personnel fighting COVID-19, May 1, 2020.

U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs assigned to the 58th Airlift Squadron, take off from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in support of essential personnel fighting COVID-19, May 1, 2020. The flyover was conducted as part of Operation: American Resolve, during which a series of flyovers were conducted to salute those working on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19. (U.S Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

A U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus assigned to the 56th Air Refueling Squadron, takes off from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in support of essential personnel fighting COVID-19, May 1, 2020.

A U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus assigned to the 56th Air Refueling Squadron, takes off from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in support of essential personnel fighting COVID-19, May 1, 2020. Altus AFB provided eight aircraft for the flyover, which included four C-17 Globemaster IIIs, two KC-135 Stratotankers and two KC-46 Pegasus aircraft. (U.S Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kenneth W. Norman)

photo

Airman 1st Class Molly Erickson, a loadmaster student assigned to the 97th Training Squadron at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, directs a vehicle onto a C-17 Globemaster III, May 1, 2020, at Altus AFB. The flyover was conducted at no additional cost to taxpayers and served as training for the aircrew, as additional training requirements were accomplished after the flyover’s conclusion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

Aircraft flyover

A formation of aircraft assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, flies over hospitals in Oklahoma City on May 1, 2020. The Department of the Air Force conducted this flyover to help salute each American serving on the frontlines in combat against COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

Aircraft flyover

A KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 54th Air Refueling Squadron from Altus Air Force Base, flies over Oklahoma City, May 1, 2020. The U.S. Air Force conducted a series of flyovers across the United States to demonstrate the Air Force’s continued readiness during COVID-19 while saluting American heroes at the forefront of the COVID-19 battle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

photo

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Melissa Michaels, an instructor loadmaster assigned to the 97th Training Squadron at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, ensures the chains holding down cargo are properly secured, May 1, 2020. The 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus AFB and 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance AFB, Oklahoma, welcomed and encouraged viewers to tag the bases on social media in photos and videos they capture during the flyovers using the hashtags #AirForceSalutes, #MobilitysHometown, and #VanceProud. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

Aircraft flyover

A KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 54th Air Refueling Squadron from Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, flies over Comanche Regional Hospital, May 1, 2020, in Oklahoma City. In a joint effort to support healthcare workers and boost the Department of Defense-wide morale, the U.S. Air Force conducted a series of flyovers in major cities across the country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)

photo

Three C-17 Globemaster IIIs from the 58th Airlift Squadron at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, fly in a formation as seen through a C-17 heads up display, May 1, 2020, in the Oklahoma Skies. The flight started over Enid, journeyed to Oklahoma City, and then Lawton before returning to Altus. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

The 97th Air Mobility Wing here and the 71st Fighter Training Wing at Vance Air Force Base conducted a flyover of various medical facilities, May 1, 2020, as part of the America Strong collaborative salute initiative. 

The initiative is a Department of the Air Force effort to salute American heroes at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, including healthcare workers, first responders, transportation drivers, grocery workers, and other essential personnel. The flyover was also intended to lift morale in cities across Oklahoma due to the severe health and economic impacts that have resulted from the Coronavirus.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this Air Force Salutes event with our Altus partners," said Col. Corey Simmons, 71st FTW commander. "I can’t think of a better way of recognizing Oklahoma’s healthcare workers than a flyover while we conduct training operations. Service before self has long been an Air Force core value, and seeing the rest of the nation’s essential personnel rally behind a common cause has made it abundantly clear it’s an American core value as well."

The salutes started in the morning over Enid, journeyed to Oklahoma City, and then Lawton before returning to Altus. Four C-17 Globemaster IIIs, two KC-135 Stratotankers, and two KC-46 Pegasus aircraft from the 97th AMW were joined by four T-38 Talons, two T-1 Jayhawks, and four T-6 Texan IIs from the 71st FTW to execute the flyover, which was conducted at no additional cost to taxpayers. The flyovers additionally fulfilled critical training requirements for aircrew members who participated.

Airman 1st Class Molly Erickson, 97th Training Squadron loadmaster student, said she was grateful for the training provided by the flyover and for the opportunity to give back to the community despite having less than a year of service to the Air Force.

“I’m honored to participate in this salute so early in my career, especially since I’m still in training,” she said. “Military members receive so much support from people all over the country, so to be on the other end of that and give back to them and to say ‘thank you’ is so great.”

Capt. Kaylyn Leibrand, 56th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot, said the fight against the Coronavirus has been new and unique, and that she takes pride in working alongside her military and civilian counterparts to combat the threat. 

"We are used to defending the homeland and being on the frontlines of combat, but we are used to doing that a half a world away," she said. "Our healthcare providers and essential personnel are defending the homeland here, right now, amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Defending the homeland has taken a new shape and we are proud to serve alongside those first responders."

ALTUS AFB FLICKR ALBUMS

Click on the link below to see all the photos from Altus AFB's official ceremonies.

Altus AFB Flickr Albums