All across the country, U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have been performing flyovers to honor the workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the team's newest members is a Howard University graduate and the first black, female officer.
"I know a small percentage of African-American officers, specifically female officers in the Air Force. So to be in a position that is visible, to show little girls that this is attainable, to let them know they can do anything they put their mind to, is an absolute honor," Capt. Remoshay Nelson said.
This is Nelson's first season with the Air Force Thunderbirds squadron. Shows have temporarily been placed on hold because of the coronavirus, but they have conducted flyovers across D.C., Baltimore and Atlanta to pay tribute to people battling the pandemic.
She has spent eight years in the Air Force, serving mostly overseas, but says her best decision was attending Howard University.
"To be around people who look like me and instill a self-confidence in who I am, and walk into the world knowing where I come from and where my people come from, and where we can go, is invaluable," Nelson said.
Nelson credits her family for encouraging her and supporting her as she worked to achieve this accomplishment. The officer position Nelson holds is highly selective. She is only one of 12 with the position. Since the Thunderbirds team’s inception in 1953, only 332 officers have been on the team.
"Even when people tell you no to your face, but your work shows where you should be, I think if you continue to work hard and go after what it is you want, you will achieve your dream," Nelson said.
Nelson wants her time in the skies to serve as a beacon of hope and solidarity for everyone during this trying time.
"Where people can look up and have some type of hope during this time, to know we can get through this. The Thunderbirds are with them," Nelson said.
Nelson said that when people give thanks to those on the front lines, they should not only remember the health care workers, but also the grocery store clerks, those in the fast food service and the sanitation workers who go to work everyday.
"We have one life to live and so I want to do that by giving back and by showing people what is possible," Nelson said. "Just to achieve as much as I can when I have the opportunity to do so."