APG of East Central Minnesota

Military flyovers have honored health care workers across Minnesota recently, including those in Monticello, Coon Rapids and Fridley.

Crowd gathers in Monticello

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 148th Fighter Wing out of Duluth flew over CentraCare Health-Monticello and Stellis Health about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 6, to honor medical personnel working on the front line of efforts related to the coronavirus.

After that they flew over Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids before continuing on their route.

Hundreds of people watched from the ground at CentraCare Health-Monticello, Monticello Middle School and Ellison Park. Crowds were so large that the Wright County Sheriff’s Office was providing traffic control at the local hospital and clinics.

Hundreds also watched from Mercy Hospital, including a group of medical professionals stationed on the roof of the hospital. A mix of medical professionals, first responders from local police and fire departments and the general public watched from the ground.

The Minnesota National Guard conducted statewide flyovers in recognition of those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

“These flyovers are our way of showing solidarity for those who have stepped forward to serve during this pandemic. This is a small way that we can salute those at the forefront of the COVID-19 response for their service and sacrifice,” said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, the adjutant general of the Minnesota National Guard.

Medical personnel and the public seemed to appreciate the gesture and the opportunity to see the jets.

The blue skies and puffy clouds provided a beautiful canvas to watch the planes.

In addition to flying over Monticello and Coon Rapids, the May 6 flight path included flyovers near medical facilities in Brainerd, Fridley, Little Falls, Minneapolis, Hastings, Robbinsdale, Rochester, St. Cloud, St. Louis Park, St. Paul, Stillwater, White Bear Lake, and Woodbury.

“Our Guardsmen live and work in these cities. The Minnesota National Guard has units and facilities in 58 communities throughout the state. They have always supported us; this is a small way we can show that we support them too,” said Col. Christopher Blomquist, commander of the 148th Fighter Wing unit.

Fridley flyover

The flyover above Unity campus of Mercy Hospital in Fridley included a multi-aircraft formation featuring a C-130 Hercules from the St. Paul-based 133rd Airlift Wing and two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Duluth-based 148th Fighter Wing.

“Our crews must fly regularly to maintain their proficiency,” Col. James Cleet, 133rd Air Wing commander, said in a statement. “This is an outstanding way to both train our aircrew and to recognize those in our community that are on the front line working hard for the citizens of Minnesota.”

The Minnesota National Guard along with the 934th Air Wing of the Air Force Reserve conducted additional statewide flyovers in recognition of those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response as part of Operation American Resolve.

Flights on May 13 were the second and likely final part of the statewide effort to recognize health care workers, emergency responders, food industry and other essential workers.

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