NEWS | May 17, 2020

Team Charleston C-17s salute medical professionals with flyover

By Senior Airman William Brugge 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Two C-17 Globemaster IIIs from Joint Base Charleston’s 437th and 315th Airlift Wings here saluted local medical professionals and first responders during a flyover Friday.

As a part of the U.S. Air Force’s OPERATION: AMERICA STRONG to salute those at the forefront of the COVID-19 response, the aircraft departed Joint Base Charleston and flew over the Trident Medical Center, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, the Medical University of South Carolina, Roper St. Francis Healthcare downtown, the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and East Cooper Medical Center.

“Seeing the community’s support during these uncertain times means so much to us,” said Jennique Richter, a registered nurse at Roper Hospital. “ A lot of us are nervous going into work, not sure what to expect, but knowing the community is thankful for what we are doing, really keeps us going. The flyover is such a thoughtful way to honor us, while following social distance guidelines.”

Major Andrew Vega, a pilot with the 317th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Charleston who flew one of the C-17’s that took part in Friday’s flyover, was proud to make the flight in support of our medical professionals and first responders.

“We are honored to support our medical professionals and first responders in the local community for supporting us every day during these stressful times,” said Vega. “They put themselves at risk to make sure our community is as safe and healthy as possible during these uncertain times. We greatly appreciate the time, effort, and sacrifices that are being made by the medical community and first responders during these difficult times.”

What made the flight even more special for Vega was his connection to the medical community in Charleston. He is a Charleston native, and his sister is on the front lines at Roper St. Francis Healthcare, so the salute was personal.

“Right now my sister is working at Roper Downtown,” said Vega. “She is a nurse who normally works in post-surgery care, but right now she is working in the COVID-19 unit. I’m proud to be able to salute my sister and her coworkers for the sacrifices they are making every day.”

“Protecting our national security has taken a new shape," said. Col. Adam Willis, the 315th Airlift Wing commander. "Joint Base Charleston is proud to serve alongside the first responders and essential personnel in the COVID-19 response efforts.”