Appreciation soars after Operation Spirit Over Texoma

Local News

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It was a sight to look up and see Friday afternoon as Team Sheppard took to the skies, a flyover saluting those on the frontlines of this pandemic.

Sheppard Air Force Base Installation and 82nd Training Wing Commander Col. Kenyon Bell said the idea came from something the Thunderbirds out of Nellis AFB did.

It was really just their way of saying ‘thank you.’

In true Texoma fashion, SAFB pilots took to the skies to show appreciation.

“Particularly the frontline workers, our healthcare professionals, those who are essential to the mission of this region, to come from the sky with a little bit of air power and say thank you very much for everything everyone’s been doing,” Col. Kenyon Bell said.

A swift cut through the sky and four T-38 and four T-6 were off, led by 80th Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Russell Driggers.

Bell communicating over radio signal and Col. Driggers flying in with a special message.

“Thank you for your continued efforts, we know this fight isn’t over for a long time so keep your head up and do what you do best, we’re approaching Wichita Falls Downtown, over and out, we’ll see you in a bit,” Driggers said over the radio.

First it was to Lawton, on to Frederick, over Electra and Iowa Park, past Burkburnett and the finale over United Regional in Wichita Falls.

“We have heroes honoring heroes,” United Regional Healthcare System CEO and President Phyllis Cowling said. “We’ve got roughly 21 hundred employees, we’ve got about 350 physicians on staff and all of them have stepped up in the midst of this crisis, we’ve been very very lucky in that we haven’t been overrun.”

Operation Spirit Over Texoma seen for miles as nurses, doctors and front line workers gazed up.

“It’s funny, I was in the dining room today reminding some folks of it and I could just feel that buzz,” Cowling said. “I think they feel very honored, they feel very special.”

“This pandemic is something none of us have seen before so it has tested a lot of people,” Bell said.

“It’s stressed out a lot of organizations and our healthcare professionals have been thrust to the front line.”

We’ve never navigated these skies before, the current situation truly unprecedented, but what’s not is the way Texomans rally around their own in the the highs and the lows.

The overall trip took about an hour.

To share photos or videos taken, Sheppard officials ask folks to use #Airforcesalutes and #SpiritoverTexoma.

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