A 2012 Palm Beach Central High School graduate and Wellington native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.
Ensign Shawn Murray is a student pilot with the “Redhawks” of Training Squadron (VT) 21, based at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. The squadron flies T-45C Goshawk aircraft.
A Navy student pilot is responsible for learning new concepts and procedures and being able to execute them at a high level. “I enjoy the challenges of coming to work every day knowing that I get to fly high performance aircraft and push them and myself to the limits,” Murray said.
Murray credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Wellington. “I learned if you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves,” he 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-21’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly, as well as instill leadership and officer values. 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 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.
Murray plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said. “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, Murray is most proud of completing primary flight training in Milton, Fla., in 2018. “I am proud of this because it allowed me to pursue my dream of flying jets,” he said.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Murray, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. “My father also served in the Navy,” Murray said. “It means a lot to be able to continue the family legacy of military service.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Murray and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, providing the Navy the nation needs. “Serving in the Navy means I get to come to work every day knowing that I will be making a difference in the world,” Murray said.