NMSU traveling hat unites Aggies across the globe

Las Cruces News

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – With apologies to Billy the Kid’s headpiece, it may be the most interesting hat in New Mexico history. Not because of who wore it, but because of where it’s been.

Jet-setting across the globe, it’s been to 42 countries all over the world. It’s a small piece of New Mexico that’s never in one place for too long.

“It’s fallen in the ocean a few times,” said Benjamin Davenport, an NMSU alum.

It’s not a celebrity, nor a famous New Mexican. It’s simply, a hat. “Nothing special, it was just a baseball hat, and it kind of reminded me of home,” Davenport said.

He said he bought the now tattered cap at the old campus bookstore in Las Cruces in 2001. It was just before his engineering career took him to the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific.

“It was kind of nice to have an NMSU t-shirt, or NMSU hat, and represent my small town, you know, far, far away,” he said.

After running into other alumni there, they went out for a boat ride and snapped a picture. It became the start of an 18-year journey for the ball cap. “We said, this will be like the poster child for this alumni group, the engineering alumni group,” Davenport said.

Ever since, the hat has been to places like Thailand and Japan, handed off from one NM State grad to another, hundreds of times. “No one will ever wear the hat, it will just be the hat, the hat’s bigger than any one person,” said Davenport.

It’s had some close calls.”It was in the outback of Australia and got powder from the Ayres rock all over it when somebody dropped it,” he said.

It’s been washed a time or two, but the hat never travels in the mail. “It’s always hand to hand trade.”

It’s their way of keeping the Aggie tradition personal. “When you run into someone from southern New Mexico, it’s like running into family,” Davenport said.

Since most of the members in the International Engineer’s Alumni Association work for the government on classified assignments, they can’t post pictures from some of their assignments.

If you’re interested in taking part in the hat’s journey, you can email Davenport at benjamindavenport@alumni.nmsu.edu.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.