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Local service member and doctoral student says ‘thank you’ to mentors in special ceremony

Maj. Johnson hugging mentor
American flag
Maj. Johnson and mentor

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Sometimes the words "thank you" aren't enough to express your gratitude for someones support. But there are other options.

On Monday, a southern Minnesota woman showed her appreciation for help while on deployment.

Major Mackenzie Johnson is a flight nurse in the United States Air Force Reserves and a doctoral candidate at Winona State University-Rochester.

"It is a time honor tradition to fly a flag on a military aircraft on behalf of individuals who are special to our lives or who have gone the extra mile to support us during our deployment or during our military time," said Maj. Johnson.

And in Maj. Johnson's case, her support came from the Winona State University-Rochester Graduate nursing program.

"The entire faculty and administration here at WSU has been exceptional," Maj. Johnson said. "They reach out to me whenever I need help. I was at midnight over in Germany working on homework and they would always be there to help me if I ever needed anything."

The flag presented during Monday's flag ceremony flew on a C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft during one of Maj. Johnson's most recent missions.

"From Al Uded air base in Qatar, to Kandahar air base in Afghanistan, and then back to Ramstein air base in Germany," Maj. Johnson said. "We were transporting wounded soldiers, sailors, airman, and marines."

This flag ceremony was a way for Johnson to say thank you to her mentors for all of their support.

"This is such an honor," Johnson said. "I was really here to say thank you to you guys, not for you guys to be putting on a big production for me but it's such an honor to be here."

Johnson is expected to graduate in May and has a goal to have a 20 year military career.

Sarah Gannon

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