While Tom Cruise has gone on to achieve success in Hollywood after the box office hit ‘Top Gun,’ an F-14 Tomcat naval aviator with a cameo role in the movie has gone on to succeed newly retired Adm. Timothy Keating and assume command of U.S. forces in the Pacific area.
Adm. Robert Willard is now the leader of “325,000 military men and women and civilians in the Asia-Pacific area,” according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Willard will be responsible for supervising advances in the military’s ballistic missile defense capabilities, coordinating medical missions, and providing humanitarian relief to victims of earthquakes, tsunamis and floods in the Pacific region. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen attended the ceremony at Camp Smith.
Willard served as the commander of Fighter Squadron 51, aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, and the USS Tripoli. He was also the operations and executive officer of the Navy Fighter Weapons Schools, and the aerial coordinator, or lead flight choreographer, for ‘Top Gun,’ where he had a cameo role as a Soviet MiG-28 pilot (hint: he’s the one the Maverick and Goose challenge in the air).
Related Military Facts:
The fictional MiG-28 aircraft are really Northrop F-5E and F Tiger IIs, which were used by the Top Gun school as aggressor aircraft.