Navy ROTC Students Feel the Need for Speed

Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Students Tour F/A-18F and EA-18G Jets.

September 22, 2022
Above, LT Matthew “Dymbl” Perry discusses cockpit displays and controls with MIDN Aaron Johnson, a first-year at SDSU.
Above, LT Matthew “Dymbl” Perry discusses cockpit displays and controls with MIDN Aaron Johnson, a first-year at SDSU.

Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) San Diego has a robust Aviation Club – a group of students who aim to select Navy or Marine Corps aviation as a career.  On Friday, September 16th, 2022, 14 Midshipmen and 1 Seaman-to-Admiral (STA-21) Program Officer Candidate visited Super Hornet jets from strike fighter and electronic attack training squadrons.  The aircraft were positioned on NAS North Island, Coronado, CA for Carrier Qualifications onboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.   

Members of the NROTC battalion become members of clubs associated with warfare communities they desire to learn more about.  NROTC San Diego offers Aviation, Submarine, Surface Warfare, Special Warfare, and Semper Fi (Marine Corps) Clubs.

The Aviation Club event allowed students to learn from three instructor pilots who hosted the visit.  LT Matthew “DYMBL” Perry from Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-122 led the tour and showed students the two-seat cockpit. On the experience of seeing an F/A-18F up close, Officer Candidate (OC) Moni Muanankese described that “the inner child” in him was “screaming [with joy] at the thought of being behind the stick of an aircraft someday.”  He went on to explain that “the ability to have an in-person experience” learning from Naval Aviators is the best part of attending squadron visits.

Students took turns wearing “cranial” helmets and climbing up the Super Hornet’s narrow ladder.  Perched on the jet’s left wing, attendees were treated to an up close view of flight controls, radar mechanics, and radios within the forward and aft cockpits.  

On the ground, two other instructor pilots from VFA-122 shared information about parts of the aircraft that are visible from the outside.  They explained the launch bar on the nose and the tailhook under the engine exhaust section, stating that the systems are used for launch and recovery to aircraft carriers, respectively.  OC Muanankese also learned about “the different aids that help pilots safely land on an aircraft carrier…and how [front and back seat crewmembers] work together to accomplish their missions.”  

The pilots discussed how to keep a positive attitude during the challenges of flight school and deployment. They described elements of their own careers, described being stationed in Japan, and answered students' questions for over two hours.  All Aviation Club members walked away with a greater understanding of the Navy’s jet community beyond what they might have seen in Top Gun.  

First-year student MIDN Noah Ashe appreciated “how rare and incredible it was to interact with some of the best aviators the fleet has to offer…it’s not everyday that we are able to be hands on with one of the world’s most capable and powerful aircraft.”  

The purpose of squadron visits and tours is to allow NROTC San Diego midshipmen an opportunity to immerse themselves in a career field they may soon enter.  MIDN Noah Ashe recalled that “having a familiarity with the multiple platforms in our Navy…instills a confidence in the competent men and women who make those systems function to their highest potential.”  “Learning about the Navy’s different platforms…allows us to set goals for ourselves,” OC Muanankese reflected.  “As a prior enlisted [Sailor] I have learned that setting goals is a major part of a successful career,” he concluded.  

The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Unit San Diego partners with 5 local universities and totals 250+ midshipmen, Marines, and Sailors undergoing training to become commissioned officers in the Navy and Marine Corps.  There are close to 70 members of the NROTC San Diego battalion who attend San Diego State University.  NROTC students enjoy the special privilege of access to the San Diego naval waterfront, Naval Air Station North Island and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar flight lines, Special Operations units, and Marine commands.  

For more information, please visit or find NROTC on Instagram at @nrotcsd.

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