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Tom Cruise and Jerry Bruckheimer Named ‘Honorary Naval Aviators’

LOS ANGELES . Vice Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller III (c), Commander, U.S. Naval Air Forces, presents Honorary Naval Aviator designations to actor Tom Cruise (l), and film producer Jerry Bruckheimer (r), in recognition of their significant and continuous support of Naval Aviation throughout the production of films Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick. Bruckheimer and Cruise are the 35th and 36th Honorary Naval Aviators, respectively. Previous designees include Bob Hope, Jim Neighbors and Susan Ford Bales. (U.S. Navy photo by Alex J. Berliner)

SAN DIEGO –Film producer Jerry Bruckheimer and actor Tom Cruise became the U.S. Navy’s 35th and 36th Honorary Naval Aviators, respectively, during a brief ceremony held at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles Sept. 24.

The designations were presented by the Commander of Naval Air Forces, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller III, prior to a screening of Top Gun: Maverick, which is scheduled to premiere on July 2, 2021. As honorary Naval Aviators, Bruckheimer and Cruise are authorized to wear the “wings of gold” of a U.S. naval aviator and are entitled to all honors, courtesies and privileges afforded to Naval Aviators.

LOS ANGELES . Vice Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller III (l), Commander, U.S. Naval Air Forces, and Rear Adm. Kenneth R. Whitesell (r) present the Honorary Naval Aviator designation to Jerry Bruckheimer (c), producer of Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick, at Paramount studios in recognition of his significant and continuous support of Naval Aviation. Bruckheimer is the 35th Honorary Naval Aviator. Previous designees include Bob Hope, Jim Neighbors and Susan Ford Bales. (U.S. Navy photo by Alex J. Berliner)

The citation for the award stated “In the history of motion pictures, there is not a more iconic aviation movie than the 1986 Paramount Pictures film Top Gun. Its characters, dialogue and imagery are ingrained in the minds of an entire generation of Americans. The movie captured the hearts of millions, making a profound positive impact on recruiting for Naval Aviation,” and “significantly promoted and supported Naval Aviation and put aircraft carriers and naval aircraft into popular culture.”

The citation went on to say that Cruise and Bruckheimer made great efforts to “ensure the Top Gun franchise is as authentic as possible, staying true to the unparalleled tactical excellence of the Navy Fighter Weapons School, the ethos of Naval Aviation, and the fighting spirit of the men and women of the world’s greatest Navy.”

LOS ANGELES. Jerry Bruckheimer (l), producer of films Top Gun and Top Gun: Maverick, receives his “wings of gold” from Vice Adm. DeWolfe H. Miller III (r), Commander, U.S. Naval Air Forces, at Paramount studios designating him as an Honorary Naval Aviator in recognition of his significant and continuous support to Naval Aviation. Bruckheimer is the 35th Honorary Naval Aviator. Previous designees include Bob Hope, Jim Neighbors and Susan Ford Bales. (U.S. Navy photo by Alex J. Berliner)

The distinction of honorary Naval Aviator has not been bestowed in more than two years. Previous designees include Bob Hope in 1986 for his contributions to the morale of the Naval Aviation community, Jim Neighbors in 2010 for his support of the Pacific Aviation Museum and contributions to the morale of service members in his on-screen role as U.S. Marine, Pvt. Gomer Pyle, and Susan Ford Bales in 2016 for her role as ship’s sponsor for aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78).

In Top Gun: Maverick, Cruise is reprising the iconic role of Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell. Bruckheimer produced both films, with Top Gun grossing more than $350 million at the box office worldwide and influencing an entire generation of Naval Aviators.

The Top Gun movie franchise is named for the U.S. Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, also known as “TOPGUN,” based at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, which provides advanced tactics training for Navy and Marine Corps aviators.

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