403rd Wing flyovers honor healthcare workers in Picayune, Bay St. Louis, Pascagoula
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Following last week’s successful flyover to honor healthcare workers in South Mississippi, Keesler’s 403rd Wing did it again. The flight plan for Tuesday, covered facilities in Picayune, Bay Saint Louis, and Pascagoula.
The “Hercs for Heroes” flyby featured a WC-130J Super Hercules from the wing’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, known as the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters.
The aircraft left from Keesler Air Force Base and made its first salute at Highland Community Hospital in Picayune and proceeded to Ochsner Medical Center-Hancock in Bay Saint Louis.
The last stop was at Singing River Health System in Pascagoula where Amber Horner and her coworkers at the hospital took to the rooftop to get a closer look at the flyover.
“It’s pulling at my heartstrings," said Horne. "I think It’s a pretty cool gesture. The Air Force is telling us health care workers thank you.”
The final salute was towards the shipyard workers as the crew flew over the USS Tripoli (LHA 7) at Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, and Col. Jeffrey A. Van Dootingh, 403rd Wing commander said they received such positive feedback that they decided to do a second fly by for additional Gulf Coast hospitals.
“This is one small way the Reserve Citizen Airmen of Team Keesler can give back to the Mississippi Gulf community, which always supports the military here. It’s our turn to say ‘thank you’ to our community partners – especially all the health care workers and first responders, who are going above and beyond the call of duty to take care of Americans during this pandemic,” said Dootingh.
Gulf Coast residents were able to see the flyover from the safety of their homes and should maintain all social distancing guidelines, he added.
Jon Wright works as an Operations Coordinator for the critical care services at Singing River Health Systems and is thankful for the support from everyone.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to be recognized and let the staff be recognized for the hard work that they’ve done over the past two months preparing for this and treating these patients," said Wright. "Just to be recognized by the community that’s out here, and the air force, it’s a great honor.”
The 403rd Wing is the only Air Force Reserve unit in Mississippi and consists of more than 1,600 Reserve and civilian professionals. The wing maintains and flies 20 C-130J Super Hercules and its missions include the only weather reconnaissance mission in the Department of Defense as well as tactical airlift and airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and agile combat support.
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