President Trump Honors 16-Year-Old TJ Kim for Launching Supplies Over Skies to Deliver PPE

White House

President Trump at a White House ceremony on Friday honored high school sophomore TJ Kim for launching Supplies Over Skies to deliver more than 10,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to rural hospitals in Virginia.

Trump said:

At just 16 years old — boy, 16, that’s a great age — TJ is already taking flight lessons to get his pilot’s license. When he heard that hospitals needed more personal protective equipment, he decided to launch his own mission, Operation SOS — which stands for Supplies Over the Skies.

He worked with his school, church, community, to collect medical supplies. With the help of the flight instructor, who probably was a very good person…TJ has flown and delivered more than 10,000 pieces of personal protective equipment. That’s a lot of work, that’s a lot of flying, too. That’s great. And There can be no better preparation for flying military planes.

Kim at the ceremony thanked the president. “I’m beyond humbled to be here today,” he said.

Kim is a student at the Landon School in Bethesda, Maryland, and has been an aspiring Navy fighter pilot since he was nine years old. He was taking flight lessons when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and with school and lacrosse practice canceled, he tried to think of ways to continue his flight training and help his community.

He said he saw that while all hospitals needed more PPE, it was the rural hospitals that were often forgotten:

In my home state of Virginia, I found that there were seven critical access hospitals serving the rural communities around them, and I realized that while every hospital is hurting for Tier 1 PPEs, it was the rural hospitals that were often forgotten about. So I wanted to do something to help and bless them.

I’ve flown four Operation SOS missions so far to Luray Caverns, Winchester, the Highlands of Hot Springs, and the Northern Neck of Toppen. I’ve sourced and delivered 8.000 medical gloves, 2,000 head covers, 1,500 shoe covers, 400 masks, as well as protective eyewear, isolation gowns, hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays.

He added:

The response has been amazing. Throughout my journey I have learned two lessons. First is that it takes a community to serve the community. What I mean is that I am blessed by an incredible community that includes my family, my teachers and peers at Landon, my flight school, my neighborhood and my church. It has been there supported that has allowed me to complete each operation SOS mission successfully.

Second, I have learned that you are never too young to think about how to serve others in times of need. Mr. President, you want said that America is the place where anyone can rise and today there are youth everywhere in America rising up to help so mass, deliver groceries to the elderly and write thank you letters to our front-line workers and when I think about them I have realized just how undeserving I am to be here. Mr. President, I am so honored by this award and I also don’t know how to repay you. Let me make you this promise instead. As long as it there’s a need and as long as I can find the PPE’s and fly them to rural hospitals, I’m going to do it.

I promise to continue to rise and be of service to my campus, my community, my Commonwealth, and my country. Thank you.

According to the White House, the ceremony was to recognize “a handful of individuals who have gone above and beyond to assist their fellow Americans during this challenging time.”

“These individuals represent all Americans who have demonstrated generosity, selflessness, and compassion during this time of need,” a White House statement before the ceremony said.


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