Fightin’ Texas Aggie To Soaring Blue Angel (2024)

Fightin’ Texas Aggie To Soaring Blue Angel (1)

Dreams of soaring through the skies often begin in childhood, but few have the determination to make them a reality.

James W. Perkins ’13, also known as Wesley, was born in Pordenone, Italy, into a military family. Thanks to his father’s extensive military career, Perkins had aviation in his blood from the beginning. After calling various places home, Perkins’ family eventually settled down in Texas when he was ten. Back in the States, he remained captivated by the roar of jet engines and the thrill of air shows, brewing the passion of becoming a Blue Angel.

“I always wanted to be a Blue Angel; it has been my childhood dream of mine,” Perkins said.

Approaching Aggieland

When it came time to choose a college, Perkins knew he needed a place that could turn his dreams into reality. Texas A&M University, with its robust ROTC program, became his launchpad. The decision was strategic: Texas A&M offered one of the highest success rates for commissioning naval aviators.

Fightin’ Texas Aggie To Soaring Blue Angel (2)

Life at Texas A&M was a whirlwind of academic rigor and discipline. As an ocean engineering major and member of the Corps of Cadets, he was constantly balancing priorities. “I did a lot of growing up there,” he said. His busy schedule taught him the importance of time management and striving for excellence — all of which would serve him in his journey to become a Blue Angel pilot.

One of his fondest memories of his time at Texas A&M was the bond he formed with his fellow cadets. Through early morning workouts and the constant demands of the Corps, the camaraderie between the cadets made them close friends, and they still keep in touch today.

“I think by far it is one of the tightest bonds I’ve ever had with any group,” Perkins said. “It all started there at Texas A&M with individuals that I’ve never met before and now they’re lifelong friends of mine.”

In addition to the friends and leadership skills gained while in the corps, he decided to venture into club sports. Walking through the student recreation center on campus with a friend was all it took for Perkins to try out for Aggie Crew, which is a co-ed student rowing team.

Although not having a background in rowing, Perkins and his team would compete in the collegiate championship in Tennessee, taking home a bronze medal.

“Rowing and going to competitions all around the country was fantastic,” he said. “It is just funny how that all happened just by walking through the rec center one day.”

Perkins graduated from Texas A&M in 2014 and commissioned into the United States Navy. Spending two years in flight school, he utilized the skills he gained at Texas A&M to succeed in the intense training. After graduating from flight school, he set his sights on the horizon, determined to become a Blue Angel.

Reaching For The Skies

The core values instilled at Texas A&M — integrity, excellence and leadership — became the cornerstone of Perkins’ career in the Navy. His time at Texas A&M cultivated the skills he would use to achieve his goal of becoming a Blue Angel pilot.

Perkins served with VFA-25 on the USS Abraham Lincoln while on deployment in the Middle East. He eventually became a flight instructor for incoming F/A-18 pilots at the Fleet Replacement Squadron. All the while, he was determined to accomplish his lifelong goal. “It took me three years to get selected for the team,” he said. His persistence paid off in July of 2023 when he earned his spot on the Blue Angel squadron.

Perkins was challenged to learn some of the most intense flying maneuvers. Once again, he was able to use the skills he developed at Texas A&M to master the maneuvers he would need to fly in the famous, exclusive formation: the Blue Angel diamond.

“Texas A&M is an amazing school and has continued to afford me opportunities prior to joining the Blue Angels,” he said.

In addition to reaching his goal to fly as a Blue Angel, Perkins is happily married to his wife, who he met while stationed in Lemoore, California. Together, they have a son whom he is proud to share a love for aviation with.

Currently, Perkins and the entire Blue Angel team is touring the United States.

Fightin’ Texas Aggie To Soaring Blue Angel (2024)

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