Sweat drips off his face as he uses his grease coated hands to make his final adjustments. After hours of troubleshooting, diagnosing, and repairing the issues, he checks and triple checks every adjustment made. After moving a wire here and tightening a bolt there he steps back, wipes the sweat from his forehead onto his sleeve and looks at his work. It’s perfect. A smile extends across his face as he moves onto the next F/A-18.
Sgt. Casey Hourigan, an airframes mechanic with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, began working as a mechanic before joining the Marine Corps. He loved getting his hands dirty and the grit and grind that led to being able to watch moving parts work properly.
His passion, work ethic and proficiency as a Marine and mechanic led the Cazenovia, N.Y. native to apply and receive orders to join the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, also known as the Blue Angels, in Pensacola, Fla. Hourigan checks into his new squadron, Dec. 8.
“A significant number of extremely talented and experienced sailors and Marines applied,” said Navy Capt. Tom Frosch, the flight leader and commanding officer of the Blue Angles. “Those chosen are excellent representatives of the skilled service members defending our freedom around the world.”
After attending college for three years and working odd jobs along the way, Hourigan signed up for the Marine Corps in 2009 seeking a higher purpose, more stability and a challenge.
“When I signed up for the Marine Corps I knew I wanted to work in the mechanic field,” Hourigan said. “I chose to be an airframes mechanic because I knew that I’d gain experience in a good trade that held my interests.”
Hourigan checked into VMFA-312 in 2013, after being assigned with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 in September 2010.
“Throughout my time in the fleet I always heard Marines talk about working with the Blue Angels,” Hourigan said. “My last [staff noncommissioned officer in charge] worked with the Blue Angels and talked about his experiences with the team all the time. He never had anything bad to say about his time with the Blue Angels. His stories impacted me and ultimately inspired me to work hard and apply for the Angels.”
Hourigan’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge was Gunnery Sgt. Robert Godwin, an airframes analyst for the Naval Safety Center in Norfolk, Va. Godwin served with the Blue Angels from 2003 to 2006, and saw traits in Hourigan that led him to believe the 29 year old airframes mechanic was a perfect fit for the squadron.
“When you’re with the Blue Angels, you’re the face of the Marine Corps,” Godwin said. “Every day Hourigan carried himself in a professional manner, constantly sought to improve himself and always worked well with his fellow Marines. I knew these traits would lead him to be successful with the Angels and throughout his career.”
Hourigan found out about his acceptance to the Blue Angels in July.
“Right after I found out about my acceptance, I called [Godwin] and thanked him,” Hourigan said. “I couldn’t believe it. I was ecstatic.”
Although the process lasted several long months, and waiting to get a response from the Blue Angels made every day feel endless, Hourigan said receiving his acceptance made everything worthwhile.
“When Hourigan called me, I think I was just as excited to hear about his acceptance as he was,” Godwin said. “I even told some of my friends that one of my Marines was going to the Blue Angels. I am proud to say that Hourigan was one of my Marines.”
The Blue Angels are representatives of the excellence and professionalism found throughout the fleet. Their mission is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.