Credit: Jeffrey Metzger
Credit: Jeffrey Metzger

You might have seen this touching post circulating on Facebook. Jeffrey Metzger, the lead pilot for Sanford AirMed, shares the story of Kate Ternes…

Too much coincidence to be a coincidence

It was a chance encounter. Metzger was looking for a new mattress; he stumbled across a local listing on Facebook. This is where he met Cindy and Glen Ternes, parents of recently deceased Kate Ternes.

Some would call it fate

Cindy and Glen tell Metzger that Kate had been living with cancer since 2016. They mentioned Kate had even been going to school at the University of Mary; she was pursuing a career in nursing, all while fighting her own health battle.

Where most would give up, Kate found inspiration

Kate used her experience to help others. She wanted to one day be a trauma nurse. While undergoing chemo treatments, Kate overcame something people call “Cancer Brain,” a sort-of ‘brain fog’ some experience during treatment. She worked tirelessly and was accepted into a nursing program through all of that.

My conversation with Kate’s mom:

Earlier this year (2022), Kate’s condition took a turn for the worse. She was admitted to Sanford Hospital in Bismarck. I spoke to Cindy Ternes; she told me it was in those final weeks that Kate would sit in her hospital bed, listening to the MEDEVAC helicopter. Every time she heard it come and go from the hospital, she would tell her mom how she wished she could be a part of the crew, and she was disappointed that it may never happen.

February 14th, 2022, Valentine’s Day…. a day of love, a celebration for most, Kate Ternes earned her forever wings. She passed away at only 34 years old.

Metzger’s Tribute

After hearing this heartbreaking story, Metzger couldn’t help but think he was meant to meet the Ternes’s. He asked Cindy if he could have something special of Kate’s. She gave him the program from Kate’s funeral with her obituary inside, a St. Anthony medal and prayer card that Kate had purchased at the Mayo Clinic Chapel, Kate’s high school graduation tassels, and even a picture of Kate and her dog. Metzger told Cindy he would take those items with him on a flight.

Jeffrey said,

"Kate was meant to be a flight nurse in her heart, and though she was no longer with us physically, I couldn't help but feel connected.   So I took a few pictures for her family in the helicopter and placed her tassel in the front middle of the cockpit."

Making a dream come true

On March 10th 2022, Jeffrey Metzger brought Kate’s memory along with him on a flight. He placed all of the items Cindy had given him in the AirMed 3 chopper. The crew had a new team member. On that day, Kate became an honorary flight nurse. Metzger told me he could feel her spirit flying alongside him as the crew flew across the North Dakota night sky.

More about Kate

I asked Cindy Ternes to tell me about Kate. She said Kate was a beautiful person inside and out. She was a North Dakota girl through and through. She loved camping, skiing, and all things outdoors. She was an adventurous soul – she hula hooped with fire! She was also fluent in Spanish. She helped translate for people in the area. Most importantly, Kate was all about her family. She loved them with her whole heart. Through them, and people like Jeffrey Metzger, she lives on.

More about Jeffrey:

I also reached out to Jeffrey; he told me he's been flying for 7 years, and was in the Army for a whopping 28 years. During his service, he said he would often do this type of thing for families of fallen soldiers. It's a way of remembering loved ones. He said he's humbled by the response his post has gotten on social media, and is happy he could do something great for Kate and her family.

Final Thoughts:

To Cindy and Glen Ternes, I’d like to thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I can only hope that I’ve done it justice.

To Jeffrey Metzger, Your gesture is heartwarming. I’ve been truly moved. Thank you for being a wonderful person.


The lead pilot for Sanford AirMed, Jeffrey Metzger offers special tribute to family of Kate Ternes.


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