Winona State University students and faculty joined together with the greater Rochester community for a special flag ceremony lead by Major Mackenzie Johnson, a student with the Winona State Nursing Department and a flight nurse with the United States Air Force Reserves.
Johnson is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Nursing Practice at WSU-Rochester and works as an Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nursing Practitioner at Mayo Clinic Eau Claire. She previously graduated with an MSN in AGACNP from WSU-Rochester. She also serves as a Major in the 934th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron of the United States Air Force Reserve, stationed at Minneapolis Air Reserve Base.
Major Johnson recently served on a mission launching and coordinating rescue flights out of the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Johnson helped transport wounded warriors to safety while providing life-saving inflight care.
According to Johnson, “We are essentially a flying medical/surgical unit in the air, with the capability of taking higher acuity patients if needed.”
While serving on this mission, Johnson participated in a longstanding military tradition where a flag is flown to recognize the people and institutions that supported her in her military service. This flag is then brought back home and presented as a symbol of appreciation and community.
Watch Major Johnson share her story at the flag ceremony:
At the ceremony, Major Johnson thanked WSU-Rochester for providing the flexible and personalized education that allowed her to pursue her academic and professional goals while also serving in the Air Force.
Johnson presented her flag to Dr. Mieca Valen, Family Nurse Practitioner Program Coordinator and one of Johnson’s professors and mentors in the Rochester program. This special flag is now prominently displayed in the Winona State Nursing Department office on the Rochester campus.