A 2008 Robinson High School graduate is now serving his country by working on one of the world's most advanced warplanes with the U.S. Navy.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Derrick Beckham, a Waco native, is serving with a U.S. Navy strike fighter squadron as an aviation structural mechanic. Beckham serves with the Fighting Redcocks of VFA 22, which operates out of Naval Air Station Lemoore.
"The Navy supports my life perfectly," Beckham said. "It's very easy to keep it as a career. It is definitely a good career choice. I also really like the family values this squadron has. You don’t find the values that this squadron upholds everywhere."
Beckham fixes hydraulics, performs maintenance on the aircraft and troubleshoots any issues that arise. The VFA 22 work with the F/A 18 Super Hornet, one of the most advanced aircraft in the world.
The Super Hornet takes off from and lands on Navy aircraft carriers at sea and is capable of conducting air-to-air combat and striking targets on land. It is about 61 feet long and a loaded weight of 51,000 pounds. The aircraft has a maximum speed of 1,190 mph.
Beckham is not the first in his family to serve.
"My pawpaw was in the Air Force during Vietnam,” said Beckham. "What really influenced me to join was my brother, not a blood brother, but a brother. His stories were so inspirational that it made me want to join and do the same."
Beckham added he looks to his fellow sailors for support.
“Growing up I always looked at friends as family,” Beckham said. “In the Navy, looking at my squadron as family keeps the morale up. You always have someone to have your back if you are in need.”
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