Top Gun Graduates Youngest Candidate

Story Number: NNS130409-12Release Date: 4/9/2013 1:15:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class R. David Valdez, Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center

NAVAL AIR STATION FALLON, Nev. (NNS) -- The Fighter Weapons School, also known as "Top Gun," graduated its youngest candidate in the school's history March 15.

The new graduate, Kaiden Lambert, is a 7-year-old boy from Neenah, Wis., who came to the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) as a part of the Make a Wish foundation.

"This means everything to us," said Paige Lambert, Kaiden's mother. "Everyone here has been just terrific. It's more than we could have hoped for."

During the course of his visit, Kaiden had the opportunity to ride in a helicopter with NAS Fallon's search and rescue detachment, experience an F-16 simulator, observe training events, and attend graduation.

"It's so cool that I get to meet all the Top Gun pilots," he said. "I really liked being in the helicopter, but I still want to fly jets."

Kaiden's visit was a coordinated event between NSAWC and NAS Fallon personnel, encompassing personnel from all levels of both chains of command, ensuring his visit would last a lifetime in the boy's memory.

"Kaiden is an amazing young man," said Cmdr. Kevin McLaughlin, commanding officer of Top Gun, during the graduation ceremony. "It has been an honor and a privilege to have him here to graduate from Top Gun."

The Make a Wish foundation started in 1980, when Christopher Grecius got help from a U.S. Customs officer to become the first honorary Arizona Department of Safety patrolman, thus fulfilling Grecius' wish to become a police officer.

Since then, the Make a Wish foundation has provided wishes to more than 250,000 children around the world. One of the consistent wishes of children involves the military or uniformed service in some way, to which each agency responds with a maximum effort.

According to the "Wish Impact Study," conducted by Make a Wish America, children who are granted their wishes are 81 percent more likely to comply with difficult treatments, show an 89 percent rate of improvement in emotional strength, and 75 percent of parents observed improvements in physical health and strength.

NSAWC is the center of excellence for naval aviation training and tactics development in integrated strike warfare, weapons employment, irregular warfare, and maritime and overland air superiority.

The Fighter Weapons School is the premiere school for fighter aircraft weapons and tactics. Since 1969, Top Gun has trained the best fighter pilots to either become instructors at the school itself or training officers in their own squadrons.

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