The New Jersey Air National Guard honored New Jerseyans fighting the Coronavirus pandemic with a flyover May 12, 2020.
“Our crews wanted to offer frontline workers a sign of hope, to let them know we have their backs,” said Col. Derek Routt, Operations Group Commander, 177th Fighter Wing.
The flyover started at 11:30 when a 108th Wing KC-135R Stratotanker and three 177th Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcons flew over Sea Girt.
From there they flew around the state as a reminder that all New Jerseyans are in this fight together.
At several points during the one-hour flight, the F-16s broke formation and descended to 2,000 feet to ensure the hardest hit communities in New Jersey had no doubt that the New Jersey National Guard was there for them, saluting their sacrifice.
The 108th is located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the 177th is at Atlantic City Air National Guard Base.
“The New Jersey National Guard has been in the fight against COVID-19 from the very beginning with our state and federal partners to save lives and relieve suffering,” said Brig. Gen. Jemal Beale, Commander of the New Jersey National Guard and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
In late-April, when the Pentagon asked the New Jersey National Guard to participate in the Air Force Salute Flyover, leaders didn’t need time to contemplate. After seeing how the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds flyover boosted community morale, leaders from the 108th and the 177th began planning.
To ensure safety and efficiency, Lt. Col. Richard Friendlich, Operations Chief, 108th Wing, selected the destinations, planned the circuit, coordinated with nine air traffic controllers, obtained final approval from the National Guard Bureau, and finalized the plan.
“The pandemic is personal to all of us,” said Friendlich. “We just wanted to give back to the people on the frontlines.”
The flyover was a much-needed reminder that New Jerseyans have to keep fighting to overcome the deadly coronavirus.
“We will get through this together,” said Beale. “Jersey strong!”