From an early age, Lt. Sean Rooks, U.S. Navy, was setting goals he planned to one day achieve. On Nov. 9, he completed a goal he has long wanted to accomplish — be part of a flyover of Ohio Stadium for Veterans Appreciation Day.
During the Nov. 9 Ohio State versus Maryland football game, the Delaware native and Hayes High School graduate led a small group of F-18 Hornets in a flyover just before kickoff.
“It was awesome,” Rooks said of the experience. “They do it every year, so I knew about the flyovers. It’s been something on my bucket list to do for a long time. It was sweet.”
Rooks is the son of longtime Delaware residents Donn and Lois Rooks. On the day of the flyover, the proud parents and other family members went to the game to watch.
“He was always a highly motivated kid,” Donn Rooks said. “He put the whole thing together, the flight plan and everything. He has always set goals and completed them.”
According to the lieutenant, the flyover had to go up the chain of command to an admiral for approval, and the weather had to be good in order to do it.
“I had to wait for it to come back down in the chain of command so I could grab it,” he said. “We got lucky because everything fell into place. I’m just glad that we got to do it.”
Lt. Rooks, currently an instructor teaching other pilots to fly the F-18 Hornet, said the flyover was a two-fold mission by using it as a training exercise to fulfill some of the requirements needed by his students. During the flyover, he said the only thing the pilots saw was the Block O on the south side of the stadium for 2-3 seconds because everything else was under the fighter jets.
“We used the Block O to center our approach over the stadium,” he said. “Since it’s behind the medical center, that is all we really saw.”
Though he didn’t attend OSU, Rooks said he is a big fan of the football team.
“I watch all the games,” he said.
Donn Rooks said while on a family vacation one year, they made a trip to see the Naval Academy.
“I think Sean was just impressed and decided that was what he was going to do,” he said. “It’s been fun watching him in his career.”
Upon graduating from Hayes in 2005, Sean Rooks said he applied to the Naval Academy but his first application was rejected. He said that didn’t stop him from trying to get into the academy.
The future lieutenant moved to his backup plan and applied to Purdue University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), where he was accepted. He only attended a year, because his second application to the Naval Academy was accepted.
“It was something I needed to do deep down,” he said. “I was commissioned May of 2010.”
Donn Rooks said when his son called home to tell them about being accepted into the academy, they didn’t have any clue what his son was talking about at first.
“For the first five minutes I couldn’t understand what he was talking about, because he was so excited and talking really fast,” Donn Rooks said.
According to Sean Rooks, he wouldn’t be where he is without all the support he has received in his lifetime.
“You don’t get to do things like this without the great support of teachers, counselors and parents,” he said.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.