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NEWS | Nov. 12, 2017

Thunderbirds member enjoys her air show homecoming

By Airman 1st Class Dillon Parker 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As the crowd cheered in unison as the U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron "Thunderbirds" soared overhead, Staff Sgt. Rebecca Coronado-Ortiz was dialed into her headset and radio, prepared to provide whatever the team needed during the 2017 Joint Base San Antonio Air Show and Open House Nov. 5 at Kelly Field Annex.

“As maintenance operations center for the Thunderbirds, I’m the middle man between the aircraft and the ground crew,” said Coronado-Ortiz. “If anything were to happen while they’re in the air, they’d contact me and I’d get them what they need.”

Even though the bulk of Coronado-Ortiz’s job takes place while the aircrafts are up in the air, she also has other duties to perform.

“When the aircrafts aren’t flying, I handle all the tools sections,” she said. “I inspect and order all the tools so the crew has everything they need to put on the show.”

For Coronado-Ortiz, a San Antonio native, the 2017 JBSA Air Show and Open House was especially significant.

“It’s definitely great to be back in San Antonio,” said Coronado-Ortiz. “This is where it all started for me. I was born and raised here.”

The best part of the air show for Coronado-Ortiz was having her family present.

“I love my family and being home with them is amazing,” she adds. “Letting them see what I do is rewarding and fulfilling and it’s great for them to see it live and in action.”

As a part of performing in her hometown, the Thunderbirds put on a "friends and relatives, kinfolk and everyone else" (F.A.R.K.L.E) ceremony for Coronado-Ortiz, a ceremony honoring a team member and their family.

“The F.A.R.K.L.E was amazing,” said Coronado-Ortiz. “It was amazing that my family got to see what I do and having my commander talk about my accomplishments was great. I know sometimes my family doesn’t understand what I do or why I’m away so much and I think the F.A.R.K.L.E gave them a better appreciation for it.”

Coronado-Ortiz loves being with the Thunderbirds, even with the long hours on the flight line and constant movement.

“It’s been truly a dream come true,” she said. “I never thought I would be here, so getting to see the look on all the fan’s faces and getting to try and bring in a new generation of airmen is spectacular.”

Even though being a Thunderbird is a dream come true for her, Coronado-Ortiz isn’t done dreaming.

“I plan on applying to the Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program,” said Coronado-Ortiz. “It’s been tough, especially working a lot of hours. Making time for studies and trying to find a balance can be a challenge, but I feel that anybody who wants to succeed and has the drive will make it.”