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FILE - In a Tuesday, May 29, 2012 file photo, a formation of U.S. Navy Blue Angel fighter jets perform a flyover above graduating Midshipmen during the United States Naval Academy graduation and commissioning ceremonies in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Utahn in Navy gets his first flight with Blue Angels
Air show » Medical technician gets a ride on F-18 in St. George.
First Published Jul 25 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Jul 25 2014 12:54 pm

The U.S. Navy is filled with history for Petty Officer 1st Class Ben Hernandez.

Hernandez is was born and raised in Murray and his grandfather, great uncle, uncle and two older brothers all served in Navy. Hernandez has been in the Navy for almost 12 years as a hospital corpsman.

At a glance

Thunder Over Utah Air Show » www.thunderoverutah.com

When: Preview party 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday. Air show is 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: St. George Municipal Airport

Admission: $35 Saturday, $30 Sunday, free to kids 15 and under

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He has spent the last three years living in Pensacola , Fla., with one of the most famous outfits in the U.S. military — the Blue Angels.

"Just the chance to do something with such historical significance in the Navy was just definitely something I couldn’t pass up," Hernandez said of accepting the assignment.

It will get more exciting for Hernandez on Friday. By staying with the Blue Angels for three years, he has qualified to receive a ride in one of their F-18 Hornets.

He’ll take off during a practice flight for the Thunder Over Utah air show that begins Friday in St. George.

As a teenager, Hernandez participated in the Murray Fire Department’s explorer program. He said that got him interested in emergency medicine. When he enlisted in the Navy, he put in to be a corpsman.

The Navy trained him to be an aerospace medicine technician and assigned him to Navy and Marine Corps fighter squadrons. Hernandez ensures that pilots are physically fit to fly and assists the flight surgeon in performing physicals.

Hernandez, 30, said the biggest medical concern is the affects that G-forces have on pilots. He has the authority to ground pilots, though he said he has never done so with the Blue Angels.

His time with the Blue Angels ends in December. That’s when Hernandez is scheduled to rotate to a new assignment with another squadron in Hawaii.

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He said his family — who will be there when he climbs into the cockpit Friday — is as excited about the St. George flight as he is.

"It’s a big deal for me, and a big deal for my family, as well," Hernandez said.


Twitter: @natecarlisle

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