President Donald Trump has announced the military will be thanking front-line health care workers for their tireless efforts combating the coronavirus by saluting them with dazzling air displays in cities throughout the country.
In a mission that has been dubbed “Operation America Strong,” the Department of Defense will send the Navy’s Blue Angels and the Air Force’s Thunderbirds to conduct flyovers throughout numerous cities in the coming weeks.
“I’m excited to announce that, in the coming weeks, the Air Force Thunderbirds — they’re incredible — and the Navy Blue Angels — equally incredible — will be performing air shows over America’s major cities and some of the cities that aren’t major cities,” Trump said at Wednesday’s White House coronavirus task force media briefing.
“What we’re doing is we’re paying tribute to our front-line health care workers confronting COVID. And it’s really a signal to all Americans to remain vigilant during the outbreak.,” Trump added.
“This is a tribute to them, to our warriors. Because they are equal warriors to those incredible pilots and all of the fighters that we have for the more traditional fights that we win,” the president concluded.
An anonymous Pentagon source told The Washington Post the flyovers are a way for the military to thank health care workers.
“This is just a sincere thank-you,” the unnamed senior military official said. “It’s one way to acknowledge those who are pitching in.”
A memo obtained by The Post said pilots from the Navy and Air Force will fly together over the cities of Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Trenton and Washington, D.C.
Trump indicated military planes will also fly over the National Mall in Washington this summer to celebrate Independence Day, just as they did last year.
“And on July 4, we’ll be doing what we had at the Mall [last year], as you know,” Trump said. “That was a great success as you remember, even though it was pouring. It was raining so hard. It was raining at — that was about as hard as I’ve seen in a while, but it was an amazing success. Didn’t bother the pilots. It didn’t bother the military. It didn’t bother the crews that we had there. So we’re going to be doing that again on July 4.”
On Saturday, the Thunderbirds flew across the state of Colorado to thank health care workers. Their flight path saw them fly over Fort Collins in the northern part of the state, all the way down through Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
The Thunderbirds shared their flight path on Twitter before the flyover, and wrote a special message of thanks on Sunday:
Tomorrow’s Colorado Flight Path
Note: the flyover serves as a salute to the healthcare workers, first responders and other essential personnel on the front line against #COVID in the Centennial State ?#AirForceSalutes pic.twitter.com/JfZMTfEBA1
— Thunderbirds (@AFThunderbirds) April 18, 2020
“We salute Colorado’s healthcare workers and first responders who are at the forefront of our nation’s fight against COVID-19. They are an inspiration for the entire country during these challenging times and it was an honor to fly for them yesterday,” the squadron tweeted.
We salute Colorado’s healthcare workers and first responders who are at the forefront of our nation’s fight against COVID-19. They are an inspiration for the entire country during these challenging times and it was an honor to fly for them yesterday. #AirForceSalutes pic.twitter.com/VpBRpl6fMu
— Thunderbirds (@AFThunderbirds) April 19, 2020
Videos of the flyovers went viral online:
“@NWSBoulder: The clouds and showers didn’t impede our view from the office of the USAF Thunderbirds this afternoon. We appreciated seeing them during their flyover of multiple Colorado cities! #cowx” pic.twitter.com/Y9ab2KP34w pic.twitter.com/KkYLetH7Ve
— Visit Colorado (@Colorado) April 19, 2020
WATCH LIVE: Thunderbirds flyover Colorado for COVID-19 responders https://t.co/n6sCN3tJRH
— 9NEWS Denver (@9NEWS) April 18, 2020
Thunderbird flyover today. Hit all the major cities in Colorado and flew over major hospitals. Great view from my roof pic.twitter.com/draITnVTGP
— Isaac Barton (@IsaacBarton10) April 18, 2020
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