Local UWF alum receives Wings of Gold from Navy


Anthony J. Young and family

Ja’Qaylin Harrison, Staff Writer

Milton native and UWF alum Anthony J. Young can officially call himself a naval aviator. Young was among the 21 naval aviation students who, after completing helicopter training at NAS Whiting Field, received their Wings of Gold on April 14. 

The “winging” ceremony kicked off with words from Lt. Gen. Frederick “Fred” McCorkle, who retired from the Marine Corps in 2001 after more than 30 years of service. Student aviators were then individually called to the stage, where they were to be “winged” by their spouse or family members.

Having spent the majority of his childhood in Milton, it is no surprise that Lt. j.g. Young, after getting a regular view of the Blue Angels airshows, would eventually make his way to NAS Whiting Field. 

“I’ve been in Milton since I was 5,” Young said. “Seeing naval aircrafts in the sky every day was inspirational and something not everyone gets to experience. Getting to fly them is something I just knew I would always eventually do.”

Young holds a degree in Business Administration from the University of West Florida and has been in the Navy for three years. Since beginning his naval career, he has completed primary helicopter training in Training Squadron VT-6 and advanced training in Squadron HT-28.  For two years, Young has been a part of Whiting Field’s Training Wing Five, which flies roughly 1.1 million flight operations each year.

Since opening in 1943, NAS Whiting Field has come to be known as the busiest Naval air station in the world, with roughly 1,200 aviation students coming there each year to train to become Naval aviators.

Growing up in a military family allowed Young the opportunity to make invaluable memories at both NAS Whiting Field and NAS Pensacola. Young’s father is a Navy electronic technician who, since 2005, has been working as a civilian at NAS Whiting Field and was at NAS Pensacola prior to that.

 Young said he’s come to enjoy the “culture of leadership and camaraderie in naval aviation” and the “level of respect everyone has for each other, both officers and enlisted.”

“I’ve learned more about what it means to be a leader,” Young said. “I feel better prepared to face tough challenges in a rapidly changing world.”

Young recommends that any aspiring Naval aviators pursue and complete a college degree, which, in addition to training, is usually a minimum requirement to become a Commissioned Navy Officer.

Now that he’s been “winged,” Young will make his way to Jacksonville, Florida, where he will fly the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter, which is primarily used for anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, surveillance, and communication relay, among other uses. 

This, however, is not Young’s end goal for his career. He said that he hopes to lead a squadron one day and to be stationed overseas at least once.

For now, it’s all about celebrating this momentous occasion. 

Young said he, a few members of his class, and some of his family members would be meeting in downtown Pensacola after the ceremony for a day of fun before he makes the nearly five hour move next month.

Naval aviation students receive their Wings of Gold on April 14