HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Eliu Rojas walks across the Ellington Field tarmac as he is about to go for the ride of his life -- he's about to fly with the Navy Aerobatic Team, known as the Blue Angels.
Rojas is one of three people in the Houston-area to have the honor in 2016. Why? They call Rojas "Sarge” because he served in the U.S Army Airborne for years. There are plenty of military veterans around, so why him? It is because he continues to serve. He now works for the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, a five and a half month residential scholarship program followed by a year of mentoring for at-risk youth. It's free and the focus is on academics, job skills, counseling and community service. The program is now in 31 states and has 130,000 graduates He's also the Texas president of the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund.
Back to the flight. First, he gets a safety briefing. He learns how to breathe during high G maneuvers and how to bail out during an emergency. Then after being strapped in, it's time to taxi and take off -- almost straight up. Pilot Tyler Davies gradually does tougher and tougher maneuvers.
All too soon, it's time to head home. The flight is an honor, but a physical challenge. Rojas has to be helped out of the aircraft. It's a life-changing experience and one he'll never forget.
“Once in a lifetime, because I won't do it again,” said "Sarge" Rojas.