MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Gwendolyn Whitfield took the ride of her life in the backseat of an F-16 jet Friday morning.
“It’s such an honor to be here, I couldn’t miss this opportunity I’m just so thankful that I’m here I’m grateful,” Whitfield said.
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She’s the Broward Transit bus driver who steered her bus to safety when a shooting happened on board. As part of the Hometown Heroes program, she got to ride with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
“We like to say as Thunderbirds, excellence, and service for something greater than yourselves. And Gwendolyn epitomizes that the day of the attack on her bus,” Major Jacob “Primo” Impellizzeri told CBS 4.
Looking back Whitfield explained, that she let a higher power take over the day gunfire erupted on her bus. “It was God that guided us to safety and I thank him for it, I wasn’t afraid I just reacted.”
Today we recognized Ft. Lauderdale bus driver, Gwen Whitfield. When a shooting broke out on her bus and two passengers lost their lives, Whitfield steered the bus to a police HQ where the shooter surrendered.
Thanks for letting us honor you and share the USAF mission with you. pic.twitter.com/lrppwmTx8H
— Thunderbirds (@AFThunderbirds) April 29, 2022
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Whitfield was not able to take flight, but Impellizzeri gave her a VIP trip another way.
“I got to select maximum afterburner so that’s 29,000 pounds of thrust. So she got to feel that acceleration from 0 to 200 miles per hour,” he said.
Without a doubt, it was a memorable trip. “I believe I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life,” Whitfield declared.
Some will also remember her for her heroism. “She sometimes doesn’t like being called hero it’s all on God,” Elijah Irving, Whitfield’s grandson said.
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To her family members, they have always had plenty of reasons to be proud of their grandma. “She’s kind, she takes care of us, she’s a really good person,” Irving added.