CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Across the nation, branches of the military have saluted front line workers with fly-overs. Kentucky last week, Ohio yesterday … and today the West Virginia Air National Guard joined in for Operation American Resolve.
The 130th Air Wing Flight started at their base in Charleston and flew over more than 20 state hospitals ending in Charleston. While the flight honored the front-line hospital workers it did not cost tax payers any money because it was scheduled during routine training.
Today’s in-flight training was for their air medical evacuation squadron.
“So today is about the air-medical evacuation personnel in the back of the airplane,” Lt. Col. Richard Switzer, the operations group commander, says.
The crew loads the C-130 like they are preparing to load patients from the battle-front to a medical treatment facility, and many of the drill-status guardsmen on board are themselves medical service providers in the civilian community.
“This is a fantastic connection that we have made with the community through our air medical evacuation operations,” Switzer says.
Capt. Megan Gillespie on the C-130 as a flight nurse today and in the civilian world, she is a CRNA student at West Virginia University. “It’s amazing I am very proud of what we do, I really like to bring our soldiers home it’s a very good feeling,” she says.
After the crew finishes loading up the “patients,” it’s ready for take-off. On the ground, at CAMC General in downtown Charleston, the medical staff waits for their salute.
While it’s all smiles on the ground, in the air, it looks a little different as the flight crew treats their patients. Guardsmen say it’s great to be able to do their jobs while putting a smile on health care workers’ faces.
“The community in and around Charleston and throughout the state of West Virginia has always been supportive of the national guard and we just want to be able to reciprocate that support. Be able to demonstrate how much we care about the great state of West Virginia and unfortunately in a time of crisis we get to do that,” Switzer says.