VA Salt Lake City Health Care System
Flyover salutes Veterans, VA employees
‘Lightning’ struck not once – but four times – over the George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center Thursday, as F-35A fighter jets tore through the skies during the “Salute to Utah” flyover.
The event, put on by the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration and 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, was a show of appreciation to employees on the frontlines, and all those sacrificing during the Coronavirus pandemic said Demo Team pilot and Air Force Capt. Kristin “BEO” Wolfe.
“This flyover is our way of saluting those that are keeping our home-front safe during these unique times,” said Wolfe, the first female commander of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter demonstration team. “To provide just a small showcase of our appreciation to everyone that is doing their part to combat the virus, and to say ‘thank you for your sacrifice and service’, to let everyone who has been affected by this pandemic know that we stand by you.”
As the thunder of the four jets drew closer, from 1,000 feet below, employees, eyes fixated on the horizon, gazed up toward the approaching storm. Among them was Shella Stovall, Director, VA SLCHCS.
“I already get emotional when the national anthem is sung and this display of support by these brave service men and women gave me chills,” Stovall said. “There is so much good that happens here and watching our staff view the flyover today made me reflect on how much gratitude I have for our employees and Veterans.”
For VA employees, working amid tough and uncertain times, the display of comradery Thursday meant a lot.
“It made me feel so appreciated for the work I do here at the VA,” VA Whole Health Coach and Army Veteran Audrey Miner said. “It is wonderful to know we have the support of the military community.”
Pilots took off from Hill Air Force Base around 1 p.m. and flew south past Salt Lake City, then over St. George before heading North past Park City, Logan, and Ogden. Ensuring Utah’s Veterans weren’t forgotten, they made a special pass by each of the State’s Veterans Homes.
“Our hope is that this is a visible reminder that we all have wingmen,” Air Force Col. and Commander 388th Fighter Wing Steven G. Behmer wrote. “We’re in this together, and we stand by you.”