Dolphin turned Blue Angel speaks to students


Fara Wiles

Lt. Henry Cedeño, Samuel Smith, and another Navy representative wait for students to exit auditorium in order to sign a complimentary Blue Angels poster. Each student who attended the assembly was given a colored poster that illustrated the Blue Angels flying over the Virginia Beach coastline.

2009 alumnus AM1 Samuel Smith returned to high school on Sept. 16, 2022, to speak to students about his life as a US Navy Blue Angel.

After graduating from Ocean Lakes in 2009, he went on to become an air framer and maintenance technician. At the assembly, Smith was joined by fellow Blue Angel Lt. Henry Cedeño, who also spoke about life as a Blue Angel as well as how to navigate making plans for the future as a high school student.

“Last time I was in this auditorium, I was on that stage for the talent show,” said Smith. 

As he reminisced about his time at Ocean Lakes, Smith also recalled an interaction with a teacher that he noted as a turning point in his life. Smith remembered one of his teachers telling him that sometimes, people get in the way of their own success. This statement stuck with Smith, and inspired him to work harder. Smith also talked about the benefits he’s experienced in his time as a Blue Angel.

“It’s so rewarding getting to speak with so many people from all over the country,” said Smith. 

Lieutenant Cedeño also reflected on how being a pilot helps him connect with young people.

“Why am I a pilot? … To be able to relate to you,” said Lt. Cedeño. 

While air shows are what Blue Angels are known for, the purpose of the Blue Angels is to showcase the skill and talent of the U.S. naval aviation not only through shows, but also through presentations and programs with young people across America. 

As Cedeño reflected on his journey to becoming an Angel, he reassured students who weren’t quite sure what career path they were interested in.

“For those of you who don’t know yet what you want to do, there’s no rush. Zero,” said Cedeño.

Before leaving, Smith thanked the students and teachers.

“It was really cool to come back to my high school and talk to you guys,” said Smith.