Hometown Hero takes flight with the Thunderbirds

By CYNTHIA GRIGGS

75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — A local hero was honored June 23 in advance of the weekend of June 23-24 Warriors Over the Wasatch Air and Space Show.

Utah Washington County Sheriff Sgt. Aaron Thompson got to fly with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds as part of the aerial demonstration squadron’s Hometown Hero program. The program salutes average American citizens doing amazing things in their communities.

Thompson was selected to fly with the team for his courageous actions in December 2017. Last Christmas Day, without any thought to his safety, he punched his way through a frozen pond to rescue a boy who had fallen through the ice.

The boy, Jason Barlow, had chased his dog onto the ice and fell in about 25 feet from the shore.

Thompson was one of the first to arrive on the scene and walked out on to the ice, stomped through it, and once he was in the icy water used his fists to break through the ice to find Jason.

“I was just doing my job. I was in the right place at the right time,” said Thompson.

He credits the team effort between the emergency dispatcher, himself and the other first responders on scene that day for helping save Barlow’s life.

Thompson’s family was on hand to witness the flight, as well as Barlow and his family.

When Thompson found out he would fly with the Thunderbirds he was understandably excited.

“This is an experience of a lifetime,” he said.

He said he felt a little guilty that so much attention was being put on him.

“I’m so thrilled to get the honor, but this flight isn’t just about me, but also about Jason and his family,” said Thompson.

Thompson’s daughter Aimee was equally delighted for her father.

“We’re so excited for him,” she said. “And you can tell he’s also excited. It’s just so incredible.”

After the hour-long flight, Thompson climbed out of the jet and kissed the ground.

When asked if he enjoyed the flight Thompson said, “It was absolutely incredible. We took off like a rocket and all of a sudden everything was small.

“I would absolutely do it again. In a heartbeat,” he said.

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