Nurses, health care professionals honored with state-wide flyovers from National Guard

Becky Campbell • May 12, 2020 at 6:38 PM

It was loud and it was quick, but a National Guard flyover at the Washington County Health Department was welcomed with cheers from dozens of healthcare workers Tuesday.

A KC-135 from the 134th Air Refueling Wing flew over the health department at 11:38 a.m. to coincide with National Nurses Week, which ended Tuesday. It was one portion of a three-part flyover across the entire state to salute the state’s medical professionals and first responders.

In a press release announcing the flyovers, Col. Jason Glass, assistant adjutant general of the Tennessee Air National Guard said he hoped all Tennesseans would remember to thank the medical professionals for their work.

“We are incredibly grateful to the men and women serving our state in the healthcare field. This flyover is a small token of our appreciation,” said  “When you look to the skies on Tuesday, remember to say thank you to the Tennesseans all across our state who are working to protect us from this virus.”

On the ground, more than two dozen nurses and other staffers at the health department gathered outside for the event. As the plane approached from the direction of Carter County, several pulled out cell phones to record the event while others cheered and clapped.

 “It’s very nice to be appreciated, especially some of who do a lot of the behind the scene work,” said Ashley Lyons, nursing supervisor at the health department. “A lot of our work has been with the testing station with a lot of extra hours and a lot of weekend times. It’s really changed how we do our job.”

Assistant Nursing Supervisor Jessica Moore echoed Lyons’ comments. 

“Being in public health in nursing is completely different (now). We’ve been a spotlight with the pandemic going on,” Moore said. As for the flyover, Moore said she appreciated the show of support.

“It warmed my heart when I heard it initially. We spend a lot of time with the National Guard doing the testing events out in the community and here at the health department. To hear that they took it upon themselves to honor us excited us.

“We go into this profession because we want to help people and this is our time to shine,” she said,

More than 963 airmen and soldiers volunteered from the Tennessee National Guard in response to the pandemic, officials said.

“The response to this pandemic has required a team of teams approach combining multiple agencies in a unity of effort. Our National Guard team gets a chance to work alongside our civilian and State healthcare personnel every day,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee’s adjutant general. “This flyover is our opportunity to acknowledge our interagency and civilian teammates vital service on the front lines of the battle.”

The eastern portion of the three-leg tribute flew over Johnson County Health Department, Carter County Health Department, Washington County Health Department, Greenville Community Hospital East, Jefferson County Health Department, Blount County Health Department, McMinn County Health Department, Bradley County Health Department, Parkridge Medical Center and Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville.

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