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VP attends winging at NAS Meridian

(Photo Source: WTOK-TV)
(Photo Source: WTOK-TV)(WTOK)
Published: Sep. 28, 2018 at 6:26 PM CDT
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Vice President Mike Pence was greeted with cheers and rounds of applause at his son's winging ceremony

The vice president's son, First Lieutenant Michael Pence, was one of eight men to earn the "Wings of Gold." The VP proudly looked on as his son made the transition from student pilot to naval aviator.

"Vice President Pence has been a servant of our country in the private sector and in politics. As our vice president he represents our executive branch so well and is such a huge supporter of our department of defense," said guest speaker, retired Capt. Sterling Gilliam.

Naval Instructors we spoke with say it was an honor to have the V-P on board NAS Meridian. The instructors say "all" the newly pinned aviators and their families have a lot to be proud of.

"Hopefully that's what everybody felt here today was just a bunch of families enjoying the pride and the respect and the honor of seeing their children accomplish something difficult with their friends and then going to do something that's bigger than themselves I think is wonderful," said Training Commander Capt. Nicholas Mungas.

Captain Gilliam says the journey ahead for these new airmen will be filled with excitement and pride as they serve their country.

"And the beautiful thing about this story is that it continues to grow. The history of naval aviation is not static. These young men and women will be joining the fleet shortly and they'll be writing their own history within a matter of weeks," said Capt. Gilliam.

A message of new opportunities and a new purpose to serve.

"It was the people that made aviation special. It's a family business bonded not by biology or genetics but by shared sacrifice, common purposes and like ideals," said Capt. Gilliam.

The Pence family made it clear in advance through the base's public affairs office that none would be granting interviews.

These are the pilots who received their Wings of Gold Friday at NAS Meridian:

Lt. j.g. Alexander Joseph Carlson, USN, earned one Navy “E” for bombing accuracy during Advanced Jet Flight Training. He carrier qualified in the T-45C aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Sept. 25.

Lt. j.g. Ruairidh Alexander Robert Donaldson, USN, was selected for E-2/C-2 and underwent Multi-Engine Training in Corpus Christi, Texas before beginning training in Meridian. Donaldson will be continuing training in Norfolk, Virginia, and will fly either the E-2 Hawkeye or the C-2 Greyhound. He carrier qualified in the T-45C aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Sept. 25.

Lt. j.g. Connor Andrew Humber, USN, earned two Navy "E's" for bombing accuracy during Advanced Jet Flight Training. He carrier qualified in the T-45C aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Sept. 25.

Lt. j.g. Maxwell James Kampton, USN, earned four Navy "E's" for bombing accuracy during Advanced Jet Flight Training. He carrier qualified in the T-45C aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Sept. 25.

Lt. j.g. Blake Coleman Leming, USN, joined the Navy as an Airman Apprentice in April 2007. After nine months of Aviation Electronics Technician training he went on to serve at Fleet Readiness Center Northwest, in Whidbey Island, Washington, from January 2008 to December 2009. He then completed three years of sea duty at Special Projects Patrol Squadron Two in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, to include multiple detachments and deployments in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. He achieved the rank of Petty Officer 1st Class and was selected to commission through the Seaman-to-Admiral Program in October 2012. Leming earned one Navy “E” for bombing accuracy during Advanced Jet Flight Training. He carrier qualified in the T-45C aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) Aug. 10.

1st Lt. Michael Joseph Pence, USMC, was named to the Commodore's List during Primary Flight Training and was VT-7's Student of the Quarter for the Second Quarter of 2018. He carrier qualified in the T-45C aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Aug. 10.

Lt. Sean Hugo Richardson, French Navy, earned one Navy “E” for bombing accuracy during Advanced Jet Flight Training. He carrier qualified in the T-45C aboard the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Aug. 10.

Lt. Matthew Scott Stafford, USN, was commissioned in the Navy on May 13, 2011, at the completion of Officer Candidate School. He earned his “Wings of Gold” in November 2012 upon completion of Advanced Helicopter Flight Training at NAS Whiting Field, Florida, and trained in the SH-60S Seahawk with HSC-3 at NAS North Island, San Diego. He went on to a three year forward deployed sea tour with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Twelve (HSC-12) based at NAF Atsugi, Japan, to include multiple deployments and detachments with Carrier Air Wing FIVE aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73), USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), and USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) in the Seventh Fleet Pacific AOR. He was selected for a lateral transfer from HSC to VAQ in 2016. During Advanced Jet Flight Training, he earned two Navy “E” for bombing accuracy. He carrier qualified in the T-45C aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Sept. 25.

All aviators completed Advanced Jet Flight Training with Training Squadron 7.

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