Blue Angels fly over St. John

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 9, 2020

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RESERVE — More than 20 police units lined the front of the Veterans Home in Reserve Wednesday afternoon as people from across the River Parishes looked to the sky in delight, waiting to catch a glimpse of the Blue Angels flyover.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels, a flight demonstration squadron, have exemplified pride, professionalism and precision since 1946. This week, their mission was to boost morale with a salute to the healthcare workers, first responders and essential personnel on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.

Veterans and nurses watch as police units begin a drive-by light show and parade in the parking lot.

Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser requested that the Blue Angels fly over the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Home while traveling through the New Orleans area.

The Reserve Veterans Home was severely impacted with the loss of more than 40 of its 144 residents within a month. While not all were linked to COVID-19, more than two dozen deaths were a result of the virus, according to the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Blue Angels fly over an American flag in Reserve (Photo submitted by Judge Sterling Snowdy).

Heartbreak and grief were traded for hope this week when veterans, staff and officers outside the home watched the Blue Angels formation traverse the sky. The fighter pilots blew trails of white smoke when they crossed the Veterans Home to put on a show for the heroes watching.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said the Blue Angels flyover was a rare sight in St. John Parish.

“It was a needed change. Even if only for a few minutes, it let us focus on something totally different and positive,” Tregre said. “For them to fly by the War Veterans Home with all that they have been through over there was hopefully a much needed boost for the veterans and medical staff that were outside to see it take place, especially for Nurses Week!”

Others set up chairs outside of the Veterans Home to watch the Blue Angels flyover. Lester Millet visits the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola once a year. He’s very familiar with the Blue Angels, and he was lucky to also catch an air show at the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station.

Officers are pictured waiting for the Blue Angels flyover earlier this week in Reserve.

Every member of the Blue Angels understands the importance of teamwork in showcasing the excitement and power of aviation.

“I’ve always been a fan. I just love aviation, and I’m very patriotic,” Millet said.

After the flyover, units from the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Hammond Police Department put on a light show parade through the parking lot to salute and lift the spirits of the veterans and the healthcare heroes taking care of them.