NAS Meridian holds winging' ceremony
Special to The Star
A naval aviator designation ceremony was held Friday in the chapel at Naval Air Station Meridian.
The naval aviator designation ceremony is not prescribed specifically by regulations, but has emerged as a part of Naval tradition. It marks the culmination of nearly two years of specialized training which has prepared these officers for the demands of aerial combat and carrier operations earning each the title of Naval aviator and the right to wear the coveted "Wings of Gold."
The guest speaker was Rear Adm. Hamlin Tallent, assistant commander Navy Personnel Command for Distribution, Training Air Wing 1.
Eighteen pilots received wings of gold, including two who are in the Italian Navy.
Those officers who carrier qualified in the T-45C "Goshawk" include:
1st Lt. Benedict Buerke of Yardley, Pa.;
Lt. j.g. David Hickey of Manchester, N.H.;
Lt. j.g. Geoffrey Hughes of Bellingham, Wash.;
Lt. j.g. Christopher Papaioanu of Riverside, Calif.;
Lt. j.g. Gaetano Rapisarda of Catalina, Italy;
Lt. j.g. William Schenck III of Pittsburgh, Pa.;
1st Lt. Charles Schwarm of Cincinnati, Ohio;
Lt. j.g. Eddie Whitley Jr. of Nacogodoches, Texas;
Lt. Frank Wittwer of Deridder, La.;
1st Lt. Travis Wells of Elkin, W.V.; and
Lt. j.g. Alessandro Vallera of Sulmona, Italy.
Those officers who qualified in the T-2 "Buckeye" include:
Lt. j.g. Gregory Cooke of Biloxi;
Lt. j.g. Michael Finn of West Babylon, N.Y.;
Lt. j.g. Nicholas Konatich of Port Washington, N.Y.;
Lt. j.g. Dedan Langston of Newport, N.C.;
Lt. j.g. Michael Newton of Annapolis, Md.; and
Ensign Marion Spencer of Wilmington, N.C.