February 12, 2012

Navy Wings of Gold: A Dream Come True

Hello all, and welcome to the first blog post by Bo (the "B" in the ABC blog). My wonderful wife Ally has worked hard bringing you many posts covering a variety of different topics in the last few months. I felt it was time I made a guest visit on the ABC blog. What's the occasion you might ask? It just so happens that on Friday, February 10th I received my Navy Wings of Gold and I thought I would share a little bit about the special occasion with you, our trustee readers.

Ever since I was about six years old I have wanted to be a naval aviator. It all started with a VHS copy of the movie Top Gun that my dad had bought my brother and I. Although we always had to fast forward through the love scene, my brother and I watched the movie so many times we practically had the whole movie memorized. I would venture to say I have seen Top Gun at least 50 times in my life (and no, that's not an exaggeration). Something about the high paced, action packed flying got me excited to watch the movie, and frankly, it never got old. What an amazing job I used to think- the speed, freedom, and something Kenny Loggins referred to as the "Danger Zone" seemed mesmerizing. 

But the path to earning my wings wasn't easy...no, it was a long, challenging process. I could probably write twenty pages on the subject, but instead I will give you the cliff's notes. 

  • In 2006, after three years at the University of New Mexico (where Ally and I first met), I gained my acceptance to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. There, I studied political science and got involved in a variety of extracurricular activities including tennis, ju-jitsu, and many brigade positions. 
  • During my junior year at the academy, I competed for a Naval Aviator position and was elated when I earned the spot that same year. 
  • In May of 2010 I graduated and shortly thereafter made my way to Pensacola, FL for Navy API (Aviation Preflight Indoctrination). API included aviation academics and tests, water survival training, equipment training and a variety of other courses. 
  • In December of 2010 I graduated API and was chosen to attend undergraduate pilot training with the Air Force in Enid, Oklahoma flying the T-6 Texan II.
Air Force pilot training was by far the most stressful and challenging six months of my life. Of my class of roughly 30 student pilots, we lost over twenty percent through attrition, medical issues, and students dropping out on their own. Although I was determined to finish the program, I had my share of failures, scares, and overall terrible days. I would eventually lose over 12 lbs. due to not eating enough - mostly caused by all the stress. Needless to say my time in Enid was not a "fun" time, but I made some life-long friends and most importantly made the final cut. 

In August of 2011, after graduating from undergraduate pilot training, I received my follow-on orders to Corpus Christi, Texas where I was going to begin advanced mulit-engine pilot training.  In September of 2011 I started the advanced multi-engine training at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi where Ally and I are still stationed today. Here, I have flown the Navy TC-12 and have thoroughly enjoyed the training. For me, the training at NAS Corpus Christi has prepared to me to fly my fleet aircraft which will be the P-3C Orion, and eventually, the P-8 Poseidon. Both Aircraft are multi-engine aircraft used for anti-submarine, anti-surface and reconnisance missions. 

Sooo...long story short, my winging this past Friday was a culmination of all the hard work and dedication thus far in my life. The "Navy Wings of Gold" signify that an individual is a certified Naval Aviator and are worn with pride.

Now then, let's get some pictures into this story! 

For my winging I was accompanied by my beautiful wife, my parents and many friends. On Thursday, Ally, my parents, and I went to a local German bakery that we had been wanting to try for awhile now. Here is a photo of some of the tasty baked goods. I had a apple struddle-  it was scrumtulesant!!! :-)

Here is my wife and Mom having a smiling contest. :)

We found an old school hanging chair. My Dad tells me these were big in the 60's.

On the morning of the winging we had an informal breakfast with all the graduating students, their families and the commanding officer of our squadron, VT-35. In the photo, Ally and I are accompanied by my good Air Force buddy Domingo and his fiance Codi. Aren't they a cute couple?

Also during the breakfast, the Commanding officer gave us our "soft" wings- they were almost like a teaser to the real wings we would receive later. Even still, I was pretty pumped to put that nametag on.

Here is Ally and I in front the the TC-12 that I flew here in Corpus Christi.

Here we are inside the cockpit of the TC-12.  Ally's first comment was, "I can't believe you know what all these buttons and guages do!"

And here is a close-up of the cockpit:

Would you like to go fly?

Later that day, the time had finally come for the winging ceremony. It was held at the base Bay Club in front of a packed room of family, friends and fellow pilots. Here is a photo of my best friend Sean and I after the ceremony. Sean is an Air Force pilot himself. The real question is who looks better in their respective uniform?

P.S.  Ally says it's me, for sure!

Here is Ally and I after the ceremony. Doesn't here dress look cute?! Forgive me for the squinty eyes, I had taken about 40 photos by this point, and I couldn't handle another flash. However, a small price to pay for such a terrific day spent with loved ones.

Question of the Day: 

What is your lifelong dream, and how have you worked so far to achieve it?

Ally and Bo


  1. Congrats Bo! You deserve all the success coming your way :) Hope to see you soon.

  2. Thanks, Em! Congratulations from good friends means so much to us.

  3. So wonderful to hear all the details. The pictures are great!! And I do agree with Ally...DO you really know what All those gadgets are? HAha...Very few people actually get to live their dreams,,,mostly because I think very few are willing/able to pay the price...Congratulations on a well deserved honor. Love...MOM

  4. Thanks, Mom! I have to say, when we were in the simulator it did seem like Bo knew what EVERY gadget did. I couldn't believe it! I don't know if I could ever memorize all of that...amazing...

  5. Congratulations Branden!!! Few people ever even discover what thier worldly dreams really are, much less pursue and achieve them. Most folks just "settle" for something and never experience what you are going through. I am at a loss for words to express how blessed I am to have you as my son-in-law. I could not have chosen anyone better to safeguard my most precious contribution to this old world. Allison is her fathers delight and I am honored that the two of you have chosen to make a life together.



  6. Branden, I am so proud of you - what a road to have traveled to fulfill your dream! So glad to read the details and see the pics from your special day! May God continue to bless you and Allison in your life together. All my love, Deb

  7. Steve,
    Thank you so much for for all your support. It has been a long journey to this point, but worth every hardship along the way. I am just so blessed to have such wonderful friends, family and an amazing wife. I hope Ally and I get to see you and Deb in the near future!

  8. Oh yea! I forgot one thing Branden.....please tell Allison I said that the dress she is wearing IS FABULOUS!!!!!! She makes it look so good!

    Love to you both,


  9. Thanks, Dad! I thought the blue and red would off-set Bo's uniform nicely...and it turns out, it did! :)