CINCINNATI – For Major Kevin Johnson, it was "awesome" flying a B-1 bomber at 600 mph over Great American Ball Park in honor of his fallen friend and high school classmate.
For many Tri-Staters, the rumble and quaking brought shock and awe when the Lakota West High School grad buzzed the ballpark Wednesday as part of the Reds' Military Appreciation Night.
"Probably it's one of the best things I've ever done, specifically that's in the B-1, that's not combat related," Johnson said on the phone Thursday from from Dyees Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas.
— westfirebirds.com (@westfirebirds) September 30, 2015
The flyover was personal for Johnson. His thoughts were with Sgt. First Class Corey Hood and Hood's family. Hood, an Army parachutist, was killed in a tragic accident during the Chicago Air & Water Show in August.
"It's definitely an added bonus, to know that I'm doing it for, or at least, in honor of a friend of mine," Johnson said. "And even more important, knowing that his family was there."
The Reds selected Hood as Hometown Hero In Memoriam. For other games, the Hometown Hero stood on the Reds dugout while being introduced to fans and basked in their grateful cheers, applause and salutes. Hood's wife Lyndsay stood in for him Wednesday, and the crowd welcomed her with cheers, love and tears.
Tonight’s Hometown Hero was In Memoriam for Master Sergeant Corey Hood. MSGT Hood died in a tragic accident earlier this summer at the Chicago Air & Water Show. Corey's wife Lyndsay stood in for him during our Hometown Hero moment. Corey Hood was a Lakota West High School grad and served in Iraq & Afghanistan prior to joining the Army’s Golden Knights parachute demonstration team. 🇺🇸
Johnson and his weapons officer, Capt. Jason Williams, also from Ohio, flew up from Texas. Taxpayers will be happy to know it wasn't a joyride. The trip was actually a training mission carefully orchestrated to coincide with a nod to our local warriors.
"It's always nice to give a little something back, especially for one of our fallen brethren," Williams said.
As thrilling as it was for fans at the ballpark, it was downright scary for other Tri-Staters who didn't know what was going on.
"I said, 'What the heck is that?' It actually rattled the windows and all that," one resident said after it flew over his house.
The massive B-1 is half a football field long and can push more than 477,000 pounds of thrust.
The noise in its wake, 133 decibels, is louder than ground zero of a lightning strike.
"It's a whole lot of noise and a whole lot of get-up and go," Johnson said.
Thanks to Aaron Preslin for providing B-1 video in Scott Wegener's TV report.