JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas —
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.”