Members of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds surprised patients
at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital with a personal visit on Friday. America’s
Ambassadors in Blue visited the hospital between training sessions. The
team is in town for this weekend’s California International Airshow Salinas.
“It is such an honor for us to visit patients at Salinas Valley
Memorial,” says Captain Ryan Bodenheimer, Left Wing Pilot. “We
love to fly and represent our country but getting to meet children and
seeing their eyes light up is very rewarding for us.” Captain Ryan
Bodenheimer was accompanied by Major Sgt. Ira Zach, Major Sgt. Robert
Chrisman, Staff Sgt. Jason O’Neal, Staff Sgt. Jesse Barker, and
Technical Sgt. Jason Boitz.
The Thunderbirds team enjoyed meeting a number of pediatric patients including
Diana Hernandez, a 16-year-old freshman at Alisal High School in Salinas.
Diana’s mother was in the hospital room with her daughter when several
members of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds walked into her room.
“I was really excited that they came to see us and to see me especially
because I can’t go out and see them,” says Diana Hernandez,
a patient in the Pediatric Unit. “They are so handsome in their
uniforms. I found out they use radios to communicate with each other while
they’re flying. That is so cool”.
“It’s great that they came to visit the children,” says
Diana’s mother Marcelina Matias. “This is good for my daughter.
She and the other children are getting excellent care here and this visit
is a special treat.”
Nurses were also happy to see and meet members of the Thunderbirds. “We
look forward to seeing them every year,” says Lisa Garcia, RN Charge
Nurse in the Pediatric Unit. “It brings smiles to our faces and
to our patients.”
The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will be performing their sharply choreographed
loops, rolls, formation flying and high speed passes at the Californian
International Airshow Salinas on Saturday and Sunday.