Blue Angels show in Utah a homecoming for one member of the crew

Posted at 9:32 PM, Jul 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-24 23:53:31-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah - The U.S. Navy Blue Angels spent their Pioneer Day getting to know the St. George skies.

It’s all part of the preparation for their show this weekend, but for one of the ground crew, it’s more than just a show: it’s a homecoming.

Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Hernandez is the crew doctor. But before he landed the spot of keeping the Blue Angels in tip top shape, he called Murray home. The 2002 graduate of Murray High School said he comes from a Navy family, so it was always a career goal, and when the chance to tour with the Blue Angels came up, he jumped on it.

“Being able to see something like this day in and day out definitely keeps the patriotism alive and keeps it strong,” Hernandez said.

Each member of the crew wears multiple hats, so Hernandez is also in charge of helping the F-18 Hornets get off the ground. The pilots say there’s a lot that goes into their high-flying stunts, and being physically fit is one of the most important.

“It takes a lot of physical strength to be able to pull those Gs,” says Blue Angels Public Affairs and Safety Officer Lt. J. G. Amber Lynn Daniel. “So they have mandatory workouts every single day to be able to perform the maneuvers you’re going to see out here.”

Hernandez said the crew is a tight-knit unit, each looking after each other. The patriotism and seeing the crowd react to the stunts is what makes it all worth it, and there’s no better feeling than doing it in your home state.

“You can go a lot of different places around the world and see lots of different things, but nowhere feels the same as home,” Hernandez said.