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Wings over Wisconsin: F-16 fighter jets honor health care heroes with flyover

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Updated: 8:26 p.m. on May 12, 2020

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Air National Guard paid homage to health care and essential workers all around the state Tuesday.

Just before 6 p.m., four F-16 Falcon jets flew over the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and the VA Hospital, tipping their wings as a salute.

"Every single time I watch them take off it invokes this feeling inside me every single time -- it never gets old," said Leslie Westmont, Public Affairs Officer, 115th Fighter Wing Wisconsin National Guard. 

Captain Westmont of the 115th Fighter Wing hopes the sound of roaring fighting jets will unite the community during an uncertain time.

"Grocery workers, truck drivers, anyone who's been contributing to the COVID-19 response, we've been working side by side with them during the COVID-19 pandemic and we just wanted to say thank you," she said.

"Seeing the power of the jets that fly over you, and you feel very patriotic at that moment, like you can do anything if we collectively put our minds together," said Tandria Williams, Acute Outpatient Nurse Division Manager at Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.

Dozens of people gathered to the VA parking lot to watch.

"I like to see the flyovers and fast, loud airplanes, and yeah, we think it's important to support the VA and the nurses at this time," said Eva and Matt Burkart, who watched.

VA hospital nurses say the gesture made them feel loved and honored.

"It really warms my heart, and you know, we do this not for recognition, but really because we're committed to this," Williams said. 

"Sometimes it's just nice to see that they recognize that and recognize the stress we might be under during some of the changes that we're going through," Resource Pool Nurse Manager Kristy Fritz said. 

The flyover was part of a nationwide campaign to recognize front-line workers, but was not added expense.

"Formation training, the ability to be a specific plane at a precise location at a precise time," said Westmont.

And while it's training day for some service members, for others healing at the VA hospital, it's a symbol of hope.

"Maybe a little patriotism, maybe again hope for the future, that there is a future beyond the COVID-19 pandemic," Westmont added.

Captain Westmont says they decided to have the flyover Tuesday because of the weather, not knowing it marked the last day of National Nurses Week.

She said it just happened to be an awesome coincidence.

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Posted: 1:38 p.m. on May 12, 2020

WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Tuesday evening, May 12 -- look up! You may be able to catch a glimpse of some fighter jets. 

Four F-16 fighter jets from the 115th Fighter Wing are scheduled to fly over hospitals and medical centers across Wisconsin, as a tribute to health care workers. 

They'll take off from Truax Field in Madison, and are expected to make their first flyover in Kenosha at 5:48 p.m. 

The fighter jets will fly up the Michigan coastline and visit Milwaukee from 5:54 p.m. to 6:04 p.m.

Here's Tuesday's schedule — depending on weather conditions:

Kenosha, 5:48-5:58 p.m.

Froedtert Pleasant Prairie Hospital
Jets will come from the west

Racine, 5:50-6 p.m.

Ascension All Saints Hospital
Jets will come from the southwest

Milwaukee, 5:54-6:04 p.m.

VA Medical Center, Froedtert Hospital, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin
Jets will come from the southwest

Sheboygan, 6:02-6:12 p.m.

Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center and St. Nicholas Hospital
Jets will come from the south

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