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NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (May 4, 2022): “Revvin' up your engine, listen to her howlin' roar… Metal under tension begging' you to touch and go… Highway to the Danger Zone,
Take a ride into the Danger Zone. These lyrics by singer Kenny Loggins are forever memorialized in the 1989 smash hit movie Top Gun starring Tom Cruise that proved to be a fabulous recruiting tool for the Navy.
Thirty-six years later, Top Gun: Maverick hit the screens to immense audiences around the world and will likely eclipse its impact on today’s Navy recruiting. Once again starring actor Tom Cruise, Top Gun: Maverick was filmed at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School headquartered at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada.
Like the 1986 version, those are not actors flying the F-18 jets soaring over the desert landscape but active-duty aviators representing the “best of the best” of naval aviation. Unlike movie portrayals of cock fighter pilots bending the rules, today’s Top Gun pilots are the most disciplined professionals in the world.
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POINT MUGU, Calif. (May 11, 2022): They lurk beneath the waves carrying a deadly cargo, including nuclear missiles that could end civilization. Their mission is to approach by stealth, remain undetected, and then launch their missiles to devastating effect. They are enemy submarines, and they pose the ultimate threat to American civilians and military alike.
Part of America’s response to this threat is the PC-3 Orion, a four-engine turboprop aircraft used by the U.S. Navy to locate and track enemy submarines. Originally deployed in the late 1960s, the P-3C Orion has undergone a series of system upgrades to improve its ability to detect modern threats undersea and on land. Just like the famous B-52 bomber, the P-3 Orion was in service long before their pilots and crews were born.
The Orion is a large aircraft, 120 feet long with a one-hundred-foot wingspan, It has four turboprop engines that can keep it aloft for up to 14 hours and has a range of 2,380 nautical miles. It has a crew complement of eleven, including three pilots, two naval flight officers, two flight engineers, three sensor operators, and one in-flight technician. This bird is designed for large payloads, capable of carrying up to 15,000 pounds, and cruises at speeds of four hundred knots and altitudes up to 28,000 feet. But what is most impressive about the P-3 Orion is the variety of missions it performs, both as a flying listening device and as an attack platform.
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ATLANTIC OCEAN (Oct. 11, 2022): Most times, the enemy never sees them coming.
They are the “Gray Wolves” of Electronic Attack Squadron 142 flying the EA-18G Growler, the Navy’s first newly designed electronic warfare aircraft in more than 35 years. Call sign “Grim,” the Gray Wolves are based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington, and they perform carrier-based missions around the world.
Flying a derivative of the combat-proven two-seat F/A-18 Hornet, the Grey Wolves’ primary mission is to electronically attack and suppress enemy air defenses before fighter aircraft arrive. Built by Boeing Aircraft, the Growler integrates the latest electronic attack technology, including the latest jamming pods, communication countermeasures, and satellite communications. Launched from aircraft carriers, this $67 million plane sports two General Electric turbofan engines that produce 22,000 pounds of thrust powering the jet up to speeds of Mach 1.8 (14,000 mph) and it has a range of up to 850 nautical miles.
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ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 5, 2022): They fly strange looking birds, these Seahawks, with their turboprop engines with what looks like a giant satellite disc on top. But to Navy fighter pilots, they are the difference between life or death.
Officially dubbed the Airborne Command and Control Squadron, the Seahawks are assigned to the Harry S. Truman, a Nimitz class aircraft carrier named after America’s 33rd president famous for the slogan, “give ‘em hell”. The Truman is a floating city of over 5,200 Sailors and Marines that is twenty-four stories high and over a thousand feet long. These servicemembers spend nine months of their lives at sea, away from home and loved one.
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OCONUS, December 6, 2022 - Good Afternoon, I am the BN S4 NCO for [ ]. I would like to sign my unit up to receive care packages. Many of the amenities and activities that soldier had during the earlier years to improve soldiers quality of life and Morale have seized to exist. Anything that you can provide would be appreciated.
~~ Christopher [ ]
My guys are deployed to a foreign country for Christmas - anything to make it feel more like home :-) Thank you so much for your support! Anything for the holidays will help.
~~ John [ ], Army
I am the new incoming CJTF-OIR Religious Affairs Specialist, I am reaching out to see if I can get support in bringing these thousands of service members a morale boost during the holiday season. Thank you for all you do for the service members and this great country. God Bless Pro Deo Et Patria FOR GOD AND COUNTRY.
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Virginia Beach, VA. (November 30, 2022): Their symbol was the pirate’s skull and crossbones, and Japanese pilots called them “Whispering Death. The Navy’s Jolly Rogers squadron terrorized the enemy during World War II and continues to intimidate America’s adversaries to this day.The story of the Jolly Rogers begins in 1943 as the Navy adopted the Vought F4U Corsair fighter as a trainer for new pilots preparing for combat in World War II. While an excellent airplane for training, the Corsair was difficult to fly, particularly off an aircraft carrier. The Navy decided to deploy the Corsair in land-based squadrons in the Pacific Solomon Islands and, as they say, the rest is history.
Led by Commander Tom Blackburn, the pilots of Navy Squadron VF-17 wanted an emblem to paint on their fuselages that matched their name, Corsair or pirate, hence the adoption of the famous white skull and crossbones on a black background as the squadron’s symbol. Their name, Jolly Rogers completed the pirate theme.
Commander Blackburn, unlike many stodgy Navy leaders of the time, did not discourage the somewhat unruly behavior of his pilots as he wanted men who were fearless for the job at hand.
Like their swashbuckling namesake, the Jolly Rogers scored the highest number of enemy kills of any such Navy unit during the war, even exceeding the better-known Marines “Black Sheep” squadron commanded by “Pappy Boyington” whose exploits were later celebrated in a popular T.V. show. In all, Navy Squadron VF-17 downed 154 Japanese airplanes in just 76 days of combat earning them the grudging respect of their enemy who called them “Whispering Death”.
The Jolly Rogers live on as Strike Fighter Squadron 103 located onboard Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia and they are flying the Navy’s newest strike fighter the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The squadron’s call sign is “Victory,” and they remain an intimidating force for America’s enemies.
It takes great skill and courage to pilot high performance aircraft in combat and we at Support Our Troops salute these brave aviators. Our mission is to provide these servicemembers with “what they need, where they need it” through our Yellow Ribbon Care Packages and the recreational opportunities we provide for deployed troops. You can do your part by contributing to our Patriots Brigade to help send comfort items to boost their spirits during the holidays? Please visit our secure website https://supportourtroops.org/donate to donate to America’s finest today!