By Lt. Bridget Mitchell | Navy Office of Community Outreach
FALLON, Nev. — In Nevada’s high desert is the Navy’s premier tactical air warfare training center, home to the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center and it’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, known to the world as TOPGUN.
A 2016 Rancho Bernardo High School graduate is part of the Navy’s finest aviation fighter training facility in the world.
Hospitalman Jared Mortel is a hospital corpsman working with the Naval Branch Health Clinic Fallon stationed aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev.
A Navy hospital corpsman is responsible for patient check-ins, administering vitals and briefing the primary care provider before medical exams.
“I grew up in the Philippines and moved to California four years ago. My father encouraged me to join the military. I decided the best decision was to join the Navy and pursue a career in the medical field,” Mortel said.
TOPGUN began 48 years ago with the determination of nine pilots, the skepticism of the government and almost no budget, as history would recall. In the early years, it turned the tide of a losing air war in Vietnam, revolutionized military doctrine, inspired a Hollywood blockbuster and attracted and trained the best-allied pilots and aircrews from all over the world.
Mortel plays a crucial role in the overall mission that flies more than 5,000 adversary sorties per year in support of the Navy and Marine Corp Active and Reserve fleet and replacement squadrons, carrier air wings and marine aircraft groups including the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard and Canadian Forces.
“Nowhere in the world does the Navy have the ability to train as we do in NAS Fallon. The Navy specifically chose NAS Fallon as the location for Top Gun and the Naval Special Warfare Tactical Ground Mobility Training Center because of the desert climate, mountainous terrain, and sophisticated ranges available in northern Nevada. Every Carrier Air Wing and Navy Seal Team is required to receive the essential training provided here prior to being deployed in theater,” said Capt. David Halloran, NAS Fallon commanding officer.
According to Navy officials, TOPGUN is highly competitive and exposes Navy and Marine Corp pilots to the most demanding training scenarios in fighter aviation lead by some of the most talented pilots in the world. Each pilot is hand-selected for air-to-air and air-to-ground training and subsequently, as a TOPGUN instructor.
“I’m the first in my immediate family to serve in the military,” Mortel said. “I’m proud of graduating boot camp and hospital corpsman school.”
Mortel also said they are proud to serve at the center of excellence for naval aviation, training and tactics development.
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 pilots.
“I’m honored to serve in patient care and proud to serve my country as a naturalized citizen. I know my contributions are part of the larger Navy mission,” added Mortel.