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KINGSVILLE, Texas - A 2012 Hughesville Jr./Sr. High School graduate and Hughesville, Pa, native is participating in a rigorous training process that transforms officers into U.S. naval aviators.

Lt. j.g. Kurt Hiller is a student pilot with the “Redhawks” of Training Squadron (VT) 21, based in Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. The squadron flies T-45C Goshawk aircraft. 

A Navy student pilot is responsible for learning the necessary skills needed to prepare for any flight or simulator event in naval aircraft. 

“Each flight and simulator event is a test of my operating knowledge, piloting skills and ability to make split-second decisions in emergency situations,” Hiller said. “I love the thrill and challenge that come with flying but above all, being around like-mined individuals and professionals.” 

Hiller credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Hughesville. 

“I learned hard work, perseverance, leadership, and the willingness to volunteer,” Hiller said. “These traits have helped me succeed as both a naval officer and pilot. 

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, Navy officials explained. 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 the nation needs 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. 

Hiller plays an important role in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances, and reforming business practices in support of National Defense Strategy. 

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities, and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results, and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “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, Hiller is most proud of looking forward to the opportunities in the future to make his country, command, and peers proud. 

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Hiller, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Hiller is honored to carry on the family tradition. 

“Military service in my family runs deep with tradition,” Hiller said. “My father, uncles, great-uncles, and multiple cousins have all previously served and now, my youngest brother and a few of my cousins are serving in the military. It means a lot to carry the torch of service for forth coming generations and having an additional connection with my family members who have served.” 

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Hiller 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 achieving my dreams, making my family proud, discovering the world, and selflessly serving and protecting the country and family I hold so dear,” Hiller said.