Friday, May 8th, 2020 is the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe day (V-E Day). On the original V-E Day the 371st Fighter Group’s P-47 Thunderbolts flew their last combat missions of the war in Europe.
The 371st Fighter Group was there in action at the end of the war, with all three fighter squadrons, 404th, 405th and 406th flying the last wartime missions as described in this new history article posted on the 142d Wing website at: https://www.142fw.ang.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2181178/there-at-the-finish-the-371st-fighter-group-on-victory-in-europe-day/
It may be coincidental or planned, but on this 75th anniversary of V-E Day a pair of F-15 Eagle jet fighters of the 142d Wing flew another morning patrol, an aerial salute for our medical professionals in the region, flying over many medical facilities in Oregon (38!) and at least one closer to this writer’s heart and home in Southwest Washington. Also of coincidence (consecutive miracles?) this salute took place during National Nurse’s Week (May 6-12), in the 2020, the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife, when we honor our nurses, which evoked a heartfelt emotion as well considering life in this writer’s experience.
The medical salute flyover was well received by the recipients and the public as can be seen in social media commentary in Facebook (FB) on the 142d Wing page and local news pages in FB (KATU-2, KOIN-6, KGW-8 and KPTV-12), and in this pair of photos from the FB page of PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington, during the 0850 overflight of their hospital.
Members of the public mostly lauded the salute, with many asking for the jets to fly over their medical facilities and areas which weren’t on this list. (Note, there may be another salute mission on May 15, details pending). For the few naysayers, others reminded them that the pilots train regularly and a navigational flight like this salute is a form of proficiency training that is needed and already budgeted for, and is not a frivolous expenditure of public funds.
Just as the last wartime missions were flown and uneventful by warriors serving to end a war and bring a peace, today’s medical flyover mission is also a sign of peace in a way, the peace in body, heart and mind for many that comes from medical professionals who give their all to assure the health of their communities. These hometown heroes put their lives on the line especially these days in the COVID-19 battle. On this V-E Day, we salute the members of the 371st Fighter Group and the 142d Wing, the same unit, flying missions of peace, 75 years apart, a great mission, both then and now. And we salute our medical professionals who also serve, then and now.