Carl White’s Life in the Carolinas

Waxhaw Native Supports TOPGUN while serving with Naval Air Station Fallon

Waxhaw Native Supports TOPGUN while serving with Naval Air Station Fallon

May 16, 2022


By Megan Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach

FALLON, Nev.– A Waxhaw, North Carolina, native is serving with Naval Air Station Fallon supporting TOPGUN aviators at the Navy’s premier tactical air warfare training center.Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist
Jeffery Tilghman Williams
Airman Jackson Mingledorff is a 2021 Union Academy graduate.

“Waxhaw taught me there are always challenges ahead but if you look on the bright side, they will usually end up well and you can make it out of them,” said Mingledorff.

These lessons have helped Mingledorff while serving in the Navy.

Today, Mingledorff serves as an air traffic controller on board Naval Air Station (NAS) Fallon, Nevada.

“I joined the Navy because it was a new opportunity for me,” said Mingledorff. “I was also interested in the educational benefits, the opportunity to travel and I was excited to have a job I could do for years in the future.”

Fifty-two years ago, TOPGUN was introduced with the mission of reducing casualties of naval aviators sustained during the Vietnam War. Within a year, this goal was reached with the United States having one casualty for every 12 enemy deaths. Since then, TOPGUN continues to train the finest naval aviators and has inspired one blockbuster movie released in May 1986, with a sequel planned for release in May of 2022.

Today’s U.S. Naval Aviators possess the professionalism, tactical skills, innovative mindset, and understanding of advanced technologies to succeed against adversaries. They are disciplined, critical thinkers who excel in challenging environments – like those seen in the movie, according to U.S. Navy officials.
“I am extremely excited about the impact this movie will have,” said Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander Naval Air Forces. “Much like the trend that followed the original film, I am confident that Top Gun: Maverick will have a tremendous impact on our Navy recruiting efforts which will greatly increase the numbers of brave and talented Sailors among our ranks.”

According to Navy officials, TOPGUN is a prestigious program only open to the top one percent of naval aviators. Aviators who attend the course are trained in a variety of areas including air combat, jet maneuverability, enemy tactics and more.

The mission of NAS Fallon is to support carrier air wings prior to deployment, as well as, other units during training and exercises. This goal is achieved through 300 clear flight days a year, four bombing ranges, an electronic warfare range and many other training facilities. The base is also home to a 14,000-foot runway, which is the longest in the Navy.

NAS Fallon provides aviators the unique opportunity to train in realistic battle scenarios while including every element of an air carrier wing. It is the only facility in the world with this ability.

The aircraft stationed at NAS Fallon support aircraft carrier missions around the world. This year, the Navy is celebrating the centennial of the aircraft carrier and its importance to naval aviation. When the air wing is embarked on an aircraft carrier, the ship contains more than 70 attack fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea. With more than 5,000 sailors serving aboard these ships, aircraft carriers are self-contained mobile airports.

“The aircraft carrier is our U.S. Navy’s centerpiece, our flagship, and a constant reminder to the rest of the world of our enduring maritime presence and influence,” said Rear Arm. James P. Downey, USN, Program Executive Officer (PEO) Aircraft Carriers. “These ships touch every part of our Navy’s mission to project power, ensure sea control, and deter our adversaries.”

Serving in the Navy means Mingledorff is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy is the greatest force in the ocean, and basically without that, we could be surrounded on all sides,” said Mingledorff. “Without the Navy, we would be vulnerable everywhere.”
With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through underwater fiber optic, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

Mingledorff and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“I am most proud of graduating from “A” school,” said Mingledorff. “Not everyone can graduate from boot camp and “A” school, and I was one of the few who could do both.”

The future of U.S. aviation depends on the Navy’s ability to achieve their vision for defeating tomorrow’s air threats with the support of the ground crews and aviators.

As Mingledorff and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their nation in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the Navy is an honor, ” added Mingledorff. “It also means I am part of something bigger than myself and I can serve others. It keeps me humble.”

Originally Posted by Navy Office Of Community Outreach


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