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Air Force Wounded Warrior Takes Flight with Thunderbirds

By Air Force Senior Airman Stormy Archer 502nd Air Base Wing

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-KELLY FIELD, Texas, Nov. 3, 2017 — Air Force Master Sgt. Benjamin Seekell, a wounded warrior and the 343rd Training Squadron’s security forces apprentice course flight chief, flew with the Air Force’s aerial demonstration squadron, the “Thunderbirds,” here yesterday.

Staff Sgt. Jasper Roberts, U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” aircrew flight equipment craftsman, places a Thunderbirds patch on the flight suite of Air Force Master Sgt. Benjamin Seekell, 343rd Training Squadron security forces apprentice course flight chief and Air Force Wounded Warrior, Nov. 2, 2017, at Joint Base San Antonio-Kelly Field, Texas. Seekell was selected to fly with the Thunderbirds before they headline the 2017 Joint Base San Antonio Air Show and Open House Nov. 4-5. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer)
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jasper Roberts, an aircrew flight equipment craftsman with the Air Force’s air demonstration squadron, the “Thunderbirds,” places a unit patch on the flight suit of Air Force Master Sgt. Benjamin Seekell, a wounded warrior and the 343rd Training Squadron’s security forces apprentice course flight chief, Nov. 2, 2017, at Joint Base San Antonio-Kelly Field, Texas. Seekell was selected to fly with the Thunderbirds before they headline the 2017 Joint Base San Antonio Air Show and Open House Nov. 4-5. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer
Staff Sgt. Jasper Roberts, U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” aircrew flight equipment craftsman, places a Thunderbirds patch on the flight suite of Air Force Master Sgt. Benjamin Seekell, 343rd Training Squadron security forces apprentice course flight chief and Air Force Wounded Warrior, Nov. 2, 2017, at Joint Base San Antonio-Kelly Field, Texas. Seekell was selected to fly with the Thunderbirds before they headline the 2017 Joint Base San Antonio Air Show and Open House Nov. 4-5. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer) Air Force Wounded Warrior takes flight with Thunderbirds
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jasper Roberts, an aircrew flight equipment craftsman with the Air Force’s air demonstration squadron, the “Thunderbirds,” places a unit patch on the flight suit of Air Force Master Sgt. Benjamin Seekell, a wounded warrior and the 343rd Training Squadron’s security forces apprentice course flight chief, Nov. 2, 2017, at Joint Base San Antonio-Kelly Field, Texas. Seekell was selected to fly with the Thunderbirds before they headline the 2017 Joint Base San Antonio Air Show and Open House Nov. 4-5. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stormy Archer

The flight gave Seekell the opportunity to experience the precision flying of the Thunderbirds firsthand.

“When I think of the Thunderbirds, it takes me back 12 years to when I enlisted for the first time,” Seekell said. “I gave my first oath of enlistment at an air show with the Thunderbirds.

“They showcase military precision, which I’m a big fan of as an instructor; along with their dedication to what they do and the pride they take in their job. I relate to that on a lot of levels and I’m really excited to just be a part of it.”

During a 2011 deployment to Afghanistan, Seekell, then a military working dog handler, was injured in an improvised explosive device attack and lost his left leg.

“Master Sergeant Seekell is hugely inspirational in how he’s dealt with everything he’s gone through,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Kevin Walsh, the Thunderbirds' operations officer. “Everything he has done has been an inspiration, not just to airmen, but to everyone. Taking somebody like him up for a flight extra is special for all of us.”

The Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform at the air show and open house here Nov. 4-5.