Hailing from a military family, Heather Clement was deeply moved the America Strong Flyover included Cartersville Medical Center on its flight path Thursday. An Acworth resident, the director of the CMC’s Emergency Department joined the hospital’s staff in 1996.
“I was so touched and excited to learn of the flyover that I sent it out to my staff immediately,” she said. “I have always loved military airplanes due to my long family history. I have never felt more support from the community and other professionals as I do right now.”
To pay tribute to Georgia’s frontline health care professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 94th Airlift Wing at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta presented the America Strong Flyover. During the event, a pair of C-130H3 Hercules aircraft flew over eight hospitals Thursday evening.
“The flyover is a way for Dobbins Air Reserve Base and the Air Force Reserve to show our appreciation to the health care workers, first responders and essential employees at the front lines battling COVID-19,” said Col. Craig McPike, Dobbins’ installation commander. “Thank you for providing the support America needs.”
Beginning with WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta at 6 p.m., the flyover schedule included Northside Hospital-Cherokee in Canton, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital in Jasper, Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton, Redmond Regional Medical Center in Rome, Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Cartersville Medical Center and WellStar Paulding in Hiram.
“This show of support is personal to me as I come from a long line of military family members,” Clement said. “My great uncle sacrificed himself in the Korean War to save his platoon, my grandfather played dead in the Battle of the Bulge, my father was a navy career man as an airplane mechanic and lastly, my husband retired from the Air Force that actually is part of the 94th Airlift Wing, which was deployed to Afghanistan. My patriotism runs deep and this moment is very emotional for me on many levels.”
To view the flyover at CMC, Clement joined her co-workers on top of the hospital’s roof.
“It was emotional to see the military showing such support for what we do every day to take care of patients,” she said.
Like Clement, Zack Akvan — an RN in the hospital’s ICU — also watched the flyover on CMC’s rooftop.
“I was able to get a fantastic view of the entire route,” he said. “One thing I took home with me from the flyover was how close they were able to get to the hospital as they circled around.
“I spoke to some of my colleagues later who were able to see the flyover from the nursing station and from patients’ rooms. To have a reminder like that in the moment as they are working hard to bring healing to people and fight an invisible enemy — I’m sure that was a really amazing and refreshing feeling.”
Extending thanks to Dobbins’ 94th, Akvan shared the impact of the America Strong Flyover was far-reaching.
“It’s always refreshing and encouraging when the community comes together to show us that they support us and appreciate our efforts during this pandemic,” he said. “It was especially exciting to learn of and get to see the Air Force flying over our hospital with the C-130s. It put a smile on so many faces at the hospital, and that is exactly what we all need right now.”
For Akvan, the America Strong Flyover presented an uplifting message.
“There is unfortunately so much discouragement flooding the community right now,” he said. “Some people are scared; others are frustrated. Some have lost their jobs; others have lost a loved one.
“To be able to stop for a few minutes and soak in a message of encouragement and support means more than the Dobbins Air Reserve Base’s 94th could ever know. Thank you!”