National Guard flyover honors workers confronting coronavirus pandemic

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

GALLUP — Healthcare professionals and members of the public gathered outside Gallup Indian Medical Center here to watch aircraft from the Arizona Air National Guard complete a tribute flight over the hospital.

The flight on May 7 was to show appreciation to frontline workers battling the coronavirus pandemic, which has severely hit the Navajo Nation and communities in the northwest region of New Mexico and the northeast area of Arizona.

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It also was a training mission that included a KC-135 from the 161st Air Refueling Wing at Goldwater Air National Guard Base in Phoenix and three F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 162nd Wing at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, according to the guard's press release.

People gather outside Gallup Indian Medical Center on May 7 to watch aircraft from the Arizona Air National Guard to flyover the hospital in Gallup. The guard was showing appreciation to health care workers treating patients with COVID-19.

Gallup Indian Medical Center was the first hospital to receive the flyover, followed by a flight over the capital of the Navajo Nation in Window Rock, Arizona.

Hospitals in Fort Defiance, Chinle, Kayenta, Tuba City, Flagstaff and Prescott, all in Arizona, received flyovers as well.

"We support the community during COVID-19 by showing goodwill, and our hope is to work together to respond and grow from this event. We want to show our support and we stand behind our community. We will move forward together," U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Howard Purcell, Arizona National Guard Air Component Commander, said in the release.

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Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at

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