Many TCU alumni returned to Fort Worth for Homecoming weekend, but one former Frog in particular had a different kind of homecoming.
Capt. Joshua Hawkins, who graduated in 2003, was back at the Fort Worth Alliance Air Show on Friday and Saturday. The show scheduled for Sunday was canceled due to safety concerns from flooded parking lots.
As a student, Hawkins was a cadet in the university’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 845. He said he went to the air show twice as a cadet.
This year, he went back for his third time but as a member of the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, better known as the Thunderbirds. He is Thunderbird #10 and said it is an honor to be a member of the squadron.
“Every day we put the uniform and the Thunderbirds patch on is another day for us to show the American public and sometimes international communities … all of the pride and professionalism of every airman because not every airman’s job and story gets told the same way ours does,” he said.
Hawkins said it was a great weekend for the air show to happen because of everything else happening in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“What a great weekend!” he said. “Between Homecoming, the Cowboys game, the Rangers, the air show [and the] State Fair. I mean, it’s a big weekend here in DFW, so [it’s] very cool.”
For the second time since graduating, Hawkins said he was able to visit his old ROTC detachment. The Thursday before Homecoming weekend, he went with Thunderbird pilots #4, Capt. Nicholas Holmes, and #8, Capt. Kristin Hubbard. The message they delivered concerned the cadets’ futures and goals, he said.
“It was a huge honor— very inspiring — to get to see the cadets and see the future they’ve got in front of them,” he said. “[One of the messages] we talked about was having dynamic goals. You can never invest your whole life and hopes and dreams into one goal. You have to have a lot of goals. You have to be willing to fail sometimes. We are all products of successes and failures. Even the 12 of us Thunderbirds, we’ve had failures that got us to where we are, [and] we’ve had successes that got us to where we are.”
Hawkins is the executive officer, which means he directly supports the squadron commander and handles the administrative side of the Thunderbirds.
“I take care of all of the administrative programs and matters that keep the squadron running,” he said. “Basically, everything that doesn’t include actually flying the jet.”
Although his job does not lend itself to piloting, he has flown in the backseat of an F-16 with Holmes, he said.
“Not being a pilot, any opportunity to fly is phenomenal,” he said. “It was so great to see how effortlessly they’re able to dedicate such energy and passion and precision to what they do.”
The experiences with the Thunderbirds Hawkins said will stick with him the longest is meeting and working with wounded warriors and families of those who are deployed. The Thunderbirds also work with groups such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.