Tri-Cities native Josh Hammitt has been all over the world, but he still feels there’s no place like home.
A 2006 graduate of Sullivan South High School in Kingsport, Tennessee, Hammitt spent much of his early life moving around. As the son of an active duty member of the Air Force, Hammitt has lived everywhere from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Sumter, South Carolina. Because his parents were originally from Kingsport, the family returned to the area when Hammitt’s father retired, so he spent most of his adolescent and teenage years in the Tri-Cities.
After graduating from high school, Hammitt briefly attended Northeast State Technical Community College in Blountville, Tennessee. After a year of college, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and enlisted in the military in 2011.
Though Hammitt joined the Navy, in some ways, he still followed the family tradition of flight by focusing his service on the aviation administration. Hammitt handles Navy aircraft logs, records, schedules, inspections, and basically anything that pertains to the aircraft. Currently, he is working with the Blue Angels, the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron.
The Blue Angels are famous for their spectacular air shows and are celebrating their 70th anniversary this year. As part of the team, Hammitt recently returned to East Tennessee to participate in the Smokey Mountain Air Show in Knoxville, Tennessee.
“This is actually the first time for me that we were back in the home area,” said Hammitt. “I only get home about every other year.”
With the military tradition in his family, Hammitt is used to being on the move. In 2011 and 2012, he was deployed to China, India, Australia and Dubai.
“It was amazing,” Hammitt recalled. “I love seeing different cultures and experiencing them. Getting to do that through your job… you just can’t beat it.”
Though Hammitt admits that his current position was not his first pick, he says he was always interested in the aviation community and could not be happier, especially after experiencing the adrenaline rush of seeing the aircraft take off from an aircraft carrier.
“The high speed and the intensity of it is awesome,” he said. “You just can’t beat it.”
The primary draw for enlistment was the career aspect of the Navy. Having grown up in a military family, Hammitt knew about the many perks of being career military. Serving 20 years and getting a full retirement with excellent benefits, not to mention the opportunity to further his education on the Navy’s dime, Hammitt says it’s a deal that is hard to beat and the decision to enlist was a no-brainer.
“I think it’s a great choice for young people,” said Hammitt. “It’s an amazing experience, plus you get to serve your country, which definitely gives you a sense of pride.”
Hammitt is a Petty Officer 2nd class, and is currently based out of Pensacola, Florida. He explains that all the servicemen there cross train, so each officer is trained in the fundamentals of each other’s job. At the shows, each member is a part of launching and performing the show and has hands on experience with the Blue Angels.
“Josh is a charismatic, genuine, hardworking and motivated sailor,” said AZCS Sean Belt, Command Back-up Hotseat, division officer and leading chief petty officer. “He has an ability to stay positive regardless of any level of adversity and has a tireless work ethic.”
During deployment, Hammitt is also a part of launching aircraft off carriers to participate in missions, so it’s not all about air shows over home turf. His career has taken him all over the world, and there is certainly more for him on the horizon as he serves out the remainder of his 20-year enlistment.
Hammitt says his favorite part of his job is the reaction from the crowd and seeing the children’s faces light up when they see the crew. The opportunity to travel and see the world runs a close second.
“I’ve been to a lot of different places, but I would absolutely love to come back to the Tri-Cities to retire,” said Hammitt. “Those mountains are beautiful. I’ve traveled all over the world, but I’ve never seen anything to compare to those mountains back home.”