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.