NEW BERN, N.C. --
The Marine Corps newest naval aviators walked across the stage and received wings of gold with a warm welcome into the aviation community during a winging ceremony at the New Bern Convention Center in New Bern, May 19.
Seventeen Marines received the iconic emblem, depicting the culmination of years of training, perseverance and sacrifice. Pilots and air crewmen receive wings once they complete their respective training requirements and are then designated to join the fleet as an operational Marine Corps asset.
The winging ceremony took place during the 45th Annual Marine Corps Aviation Association Symposium and Marine Corps Aviation Summit.
The winging ceremony is a point for an aviator or crewman where they passed a major milestone in their professional development, according to retired Lt. Gen. Keith Stalder, national commander of the Marine Corps Aviation Association.
Naval aviators must complete several months of courses and evaluations, along with the completion of successful flight hours to earn their corresponding wings. Both crewmen and pilots must be fully proficient in their aircraft platform to earn their wings and be recognized as members of the aviation community.
“Whatever aircraft you pilot or support, you exist for one express purpose, to support the troops on the ground and put it all on the line for them,” said Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, Deputy Commandant for Aviation. “Being a Marine Corps aviator means being a part of an elite group. There is a long road ahead of you, but if you put in the work it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.”
According to 2nd Lt. Reilly Costello, a wingee and new AH-1W Cobra pilot, the hardest part of his experience earning his wings was having the perseverance to keep going. Students put in long hours of studying and must stay motivated throughout the vigor's of training.
“Being pinned by the Deputy Commandant for Aviation is a great honor,”said Costello. “To have someone so influential for all of Marine Corps aviation personally pin me during such an important event for my aviation career makes the experience that much more memorable.”
Now that he is winged, Costello explained that he is ready to go out and support the Marines on the ground.