WASHINGTON (AFNS) --
The U.S. Air Force performed this year’s “Salute to America” with a series of military flyovers at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, and Washington, D.C., July 4, to celebrate Independence Day – the nation’s 244th birthday.
“Protecting the United States through air and space is the Department of the Air Force’s fundamental responsibility,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett. “American airpower on display, from WWII’s P-51 and B-17 to today’s F-22 and B-2, was an awe-inspiring tribute to our nation’s resolute spirit. We extend our gratitude to everyone who showcased our heritage and command of the skies as we celebrated our Independence Day, and we thank our Airmen and Space Professionals for keeping us safe each and every day.”
In addition to Mount Rushmore and Washington, D.C., flyovers also took place in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Baltimore as part of a salute to the great cities of the American Revolution. The missions were designed so that residents would be able to view them from their homes. The flyovers were part of planned training missions and added no additional cost to taxpayers, according to Air Force officials.
“The spectacular demonstration of airpower on our Independence Day is just a small portion of what our Airmen bring to the joint fight to defend this great experiment called democracy,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave L. Goldfein. “America sleeps well at night because we don’t. We stand the watch, ready to deliver air and space power whenever our nation calls upon us. “
The nationally-televised event took coordination from units around the Air Force as well as non-governmental organizations.
“Civilian warbird owners were also included in the aerial review over the White House,” said Lt. Col. Chris McAlear, Air Combat Command chief of aerial events. “These were the key players in getting 63 aircraft scheduled to fly over some of the most congested and restricted airspace in the world. The joint nature of the event required extensive coordination between Northern Command, Joint Task Force-National Capitol Region, and the White House Military Office staff. Without these agencies, none of this would have been possible.”
Air Force aircraft included a B-52H Stratofortress from the 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, a B-1B Lancer from 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess AFB, Texas, and a B-2 Spirit from 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Missouri, all from Air Force Global Strike Command.
Gen. Tim Ray, commander of AFGSC, said this event resonates with our nation’s partners and allies in their continued commitment towards stability and peace.
“Watching our bombers, alongside historical and modern aircraft, was truly a remarkable demonstration of our Air Force’s power,” he said. “Our bombers are some of the most long-serving platforms in Air Force history and continue to support global operations due to the heroics of maintainers, crews and engineers. Through your constant and meticulous efforts, the nation saw lethality and readiness in action. Your actions underscore our ability to reach any location, anywhere at any time, and for that I am grateful.”
Ray said he is “incredibly proud” of the Airmen for their support over the holiday weekend, ensuring “we successfully demonstrated long-range precision strike with all three bomber platforms.”
Support from Air Combat Command was also present:F-15 Eagles from 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from 23rd Fighter Group, Moody AFB, Georgia, F-22s from the 1st Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, and the Thunderbirds, 56th Fighter Wing, Nellis AFB, Nevada, all from Air Combat Command.
“Our Air Combat Command Airmen were pleased to be part of planning, coordinating, and helping execute this multi-city, multi-service aerial celebration of Independence Day,” said Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of ACC. “I’m extremely proud of the hard work and dedication showcased by this great team.”
The 22nd Air refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, Kansas, also contributed a KC-46 Pegasus to the flyover effort.
Airmen of Air Mobility Command contributed by delivering hope and strength behind the scenes, said Gen. Maryanne Miller, commander of Air Mobility Command. “For our mobility Airmen and all service members who flawlessly executed this weekend’s Salute to America - thank you for your selfless service.”
Other organizations that participated included the Air National Guard, the Air Force Band, the Air Force Academy Band, First Air Force, Northern Command, the National Capital Region and the Air Force District of Washington, including a UH-1 Iroquois from the 1st Helicopter Squadron at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.