Rockford native trains to serve as the next generation of U.S. Naval Aviation Warfighters 

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class David Finley

By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A 2012 Rockford High School graduate and Rockford, Michigan, native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.

Lt. j.g. Joseph Ramos is a student pilot with the “Golden Eagles” of Training Squadron (VT) 22, based in Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. The squadron flies T-45C Goshawk aircraft.

A Navy student pilot is responsible for mastering all the aircraft systems and the safety of the crew.

“It’s by far the most challenging and rewarding job because you put in so much effort and the expectations are extremely high, so being successful has a lot more meaning behind it,” Ramos said.

Ramos credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Rockford.

“My parents instilled in me the morals, value and discipline needed to excel as both a naval officer and aviator,” Ramos said.

The T-45C Goshawk is a tandem-seat, jet trainer aircraft powered by a twin-spool non-afterburn turbofan engine with 5,527 pounds of thrust and airspeed of 645 mph.

VT-22’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly as well as instill leadership and officer values, Navy officials explained. Students must complete many phases of flight training in order to graduate, including aviation pre-flight indoctrination, primary flight training, and advanced flight training. After successfully completing the rigorous program, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”

After graduation, pilots continue their training to learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter attack jet aircraft or the F-35 Lightning joint strike fighter jet. They are later assigned to a ship or land-based squadron.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

Ramos plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Ramos is most proud of making the commodore’s list out of primary flight school.

“I was competing against peak aviators who were performing at their best and all wanted to be number one, and making this list proved that I am worthy of being here,” Ramos said.

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Ramos, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Ramos is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My grandfather served in the Air Force during Vietnam,” Ramos said. “I like to think we both have similar core values as we both can relate in serving our country.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Ramos and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“This is by far the best job in the world,” Ramos said. “Not only am I having the most fun of my life, but I am making an impact on naval aviation history.”