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Team MacDill salutes first responders, healthcare professionals with KC-135 flyover

Aircrew with the 63rd Air Refueling Squadron walk toward a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, May 15, 2020 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Aircrew with the 63rd Air Refueling Squadron walk toward a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, May 15, 2020 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Team MacDill conducted a flyover of 12 Tampa Bay Area hospitals to salute the efforts of local front-line heroes in their fight against COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Shannon Bowman)

A KC-135 Stratotanker taxis toward the runway, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 15, 2020.

A KC-135 Stratotanker taxis toward the runway, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 15, 2020. Team MacDill conducted the flyover as a show of support to the community’s first responders and healthcare professionals in their fight against COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Shannon Bowman)

A KC-135 Stratotanker takes off from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 15, 2020.

A KC-135 Stratotanker takes off from MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 15, 2020. Team MacDill conducted the fly over to show support to the community’s first responders and healthcare professionals in their fight against COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Christopher Thibeaux-Moore)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, flew over 12 Tampa Bay Area hospitals May 15, 2020 to salute first responders and local healthcare front-line heroes.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, flew over 12 Tampa Bay Area hospitals May 15, 2020 to salute first responders and local healthcare front-line heroes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, flew over 12 Tampa Bay Area hospitals May 15, 2020 to salute first responders and local healthcare front-line heroes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tyler James Berthelot)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, flew over 12 Tampa Bay Area hospitals May 15, 2020 to salute first responders and local healthcare front-line heroes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tyler James Berthelot)

Team MacDill Salues Tampa Bay

Medical providers with Riverview Regional Hospital, Riverview, Fla., wave to a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft during Team MacDill Salutes Tampa Bay flyover, May 15, 2020. The flyover took place over 12 major hospitals to display gratitude for healthcare workers working the frontline of COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue)

Team MacDill Salues Tampa Bay

Medical providers with Riverview Regional Hospital, Riverview, Fla., wave as they await a flyover of a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft during Team MacDill Salutes Tampa Bay, May 15, 2020. The flyover took place over 12 major hospitals to display gratitude for healthcare workers working the frontline of COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Perdue)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

MacDill Air Force Base has called the Tampa Bay area home for more than 80 years. Through the years, the community has extended unwavering support and enabled the base to execute its mission in defense of the nation.

 As a salute to the community’s healthcare heroes, MacDill AFB conducted a flyover of 12 local hospitals, on May 15, 2020.

 According to Col. Steve Snelson, the 6th Air Refueling Wing commander, the courageous service of the area’s healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic has been paramount in MacDill’s ability to deliver global air refueling support.

 “We thought what better way to honor our healthcare providers, than to have MacDill’s own KC-135s, pilots, boom operators and maintainers that live here, give something back to the community that gives us so much every single day,” said Snelson.

 A KC-135 Stratotanker, piloted by a crew with the 63rd Air Refueling Squadron took off from MacDill and completed a 90 minute flight, covering several bay area hospitals along the path.

 “We wish that we could cover every hospital to show appreciation for our medical professionals,” said Col. Travis Edwards, the 6th Operations Group commander. “One of things that we take pride in as military professionals, is getting to say we have answered our nation’s call. When we think about our medical professionals, as it relates to COVID-19, that is exactly what they have been doing – so this is our opportunity to thank them for their service.”

 For Snelson, it was important for MacDill to perform this small gesture to say thank you to the Tampa Bay community, and to show support for the area’s healthcare professionals.

 “We wanted to come out and put a smile on peoples’ faces,” said Snelson. “We wanted our first responders and healthcare professionals to know that while they’re here protecting us on the home front, we will continue to have their backs.”