Please don't confuse the aviators in the cockpits of the Blue Angel jets set to perform this weekend at "Wings Over Meridian" with the Tom Cruise character from the 1986 "Top Gun" movie.

They are probably sick and tired of hearing the theme song, "Danger Zone" as well.

This weekend air show fans will get to meet real aviators as they "Walk the Line," a term given to the minutes after a performance in which the pilots stroll over to the spectator area and briefly greet the air show fans, sign a few autographs, say hello to the kids and maybe even kiss a baby or two.

What fans will notice immediately will be just how approachable these elite pilots are. They represent the very best in U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators.

These are your 2008 Blue Angels!



USN CMDR Kevin Mannix

Flight Leader / Commanding Officer/#1



Commander Kevin Mannix is a native of Lindenhurst, New York, and a 1981 graduate of Lindenhurst High School where he lettered in golf and lacrosse. He received All-League recognition for lacrosse in his senior year. He is a 1986 graduate of the State University of New York Maritime College with a BS degree in Computer Science/Mathematics. He was commissioned through the United States Naval Reserve/Merchant Marine Reserve commissioning program and began his aviation training at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida in September 1986. Mannix received his wings of gold in August 1988 and went on to fly the A-7E Corsair II at NAS Lemoore, California.

Following numerous deployments and assignments that have also garnered Mannix high praise and much recognition for his leadership skills, he assumed command of the Blue Angels in November 2006.

Under his command the Blue Angels were awarded prestigious International Conference of Airshows (ICAS) “Sword of Excellence” in 2007. He has accumulated more than 4,500 flight hours and 882 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include two Meritorious Service Medals, two Individual Air Medals with combat “V,” three Strike/Flight Air Medals, six Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, two with combat “V,” a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various personal and unit awards.



USN LCDR Paul Brantuas

Right wing/#2



Lieutenant Commander Paul Brantuas is a native of San Diego, California. Paul graduated from University City High School in 1990 where he ran track and played football. He attended San Diego Mesa Jr. College and later graduated from San Diego State University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1997.

Brantuas received his commission in May 1998 from Officer Candidate School at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida.

Brantuas joined the Blue Angels in September 2007. He has accumulated more than 1500 flight hours and 280 carrier arrested landings. His personal decorations include the Strike/Flight Air Medal, Individual Air Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and various unit and personal awards.



USN Lt. Mark Swinger

Left wing/#3



Lieutenant Mark Swinger is a native of Warrenton, Virginia, and graduated from Liberty High School in 1996 where he lettered in golf and football. He attended the University of Delaware where he lettered in golf and graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Mark then reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola for Officer Candidate School and was commissioned an Ensign in September 2000.

Swinger completed primary flight training at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas and completed advanced jet training in the T-45A Goshawk with Training Squadron 21 (VT-21) at NAS Kingsville, Texas. He received his wings of gold in July 2002.

In August 2002, Mark reported to Fighter Squadron 101 (VF-101 ) at NAS Oceana, Virginia for training in the F-14D Super Tomcat. While a student with the “Grim Reapers,” Mark was awarded the Top Stick and Top Hook awards for overall performance and carrier landing grades.

At the completion of initial training in the F-14D, Swinger remained at NAS Oceana and reported to Fighter Squadron 31 (VF-31) in July of 2003. While assigned to the “Tomcatters,” Swinger completed a Western Pacific tour aboard the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and a deployment aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in support of coalition ground forces participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received the Tomcatter Trophy Leadership Award and the Association of Naval Aviation George H. W. Bush Pilot of the Year award for 2006.

Swinger joined the Blue Angels in September 2007. He has accumulated more than 1,300 flight hours and 260 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include two Strike/Flight Air Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and various personal and unit awards.



USMC Maj. Clint C. Harris

Slot/#4



Major Clint Harris is a native of Senath, Missouri, where he graduated from Senath-Hornersville High School in 1991. While there, Clint played varsity basketball and baseball. In 1991, Clint played third base for the AAA American Legion baseball team of Paragould, Arkansas, where they competed in the state tournament. He then attended Arkansas State University earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Manufacturing Technology in 1996. In April 1997, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico, Virginia.

Harris trained at The Basic School in Quantico soon after he was commissioned. From there, he went to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for training in Aviation Preflight Indoctrination. Clint also trained at Vance Air Force Base (AFB), Oklahoma, flying the T-37 Tweet, and NAS Meridian, Mississippi, flying the T-2C Buckeye and T-45 Goshawk. He earned his wings of gold in April 2000.

In January 2001, Harris joined the “Thunderbolts” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 (VMFA-251). He deployed aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where he served as the Schedules Officer. He also deployed to Ahmed Al Jaber, Kuwait, for Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom as the squadron’s Powerline Officer and Assistant Operations Officer.

Harris joined the Blue Angels in September 2006. He has accumulated more than 2,000 tactical flight hours and 200 carrier arrested landings. His awards include the Individual Air Medal with combat “V” and Bronze Device, seven Strike/Flight awards, the Navy Commendation Medal, and various personal and unit awards.



USN LCDR Craig R. Olson

Lead Solo



Lieutenant Commander Craig Olson is a native of Kirkland, Washington, and graduated from Juanita High School in 1988 where he lettered in varsity football. He attended Central Washington University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Science and worked as a professional ski instructor during the winters at Alpental Ski School. After graduating in 1991, Olson worked at Kenmore Air as a commercial airline pilot, flying throughout the northwest United States and Canada. In March of 1994, he reported to Officer Candidate School at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, and was commissioned as an ensign in August 1994.

Olson completed primary flight training at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and transferred to NAS Kingsville, Texas, for intermediated and advanced jet training, flying the new T-45 Goshawk at Training Squadron 22 (VT-22). He received his wings of gold in April 1996.

Craig remained with VT-22 as an instructor pilot in the T-45 as a Selectively Retained Graduate (SERGRAD). In April 1997 he reported to Strike Fighter Squadron 125 (VFA-125), at NAS Lemoore, California, for replacement pilot training in the F/A-18 Hornet.

In January 1998, Craig reported to the VFA-22 “Fighting Redcocks.” While there he completed six-month Western Pacific deployment aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), flying combat missions in support of Operation Southern Watch.

Olson joined the Blue Angels in November 2002 and served as the Narrator, Opposing Solo pilot and Lead Solo pilot until November 2005.

After transferring to VFA-106 and then VFA-32, Olson returned to the Blue Angels in April 2007 and is now in his fifth season with the team. He has accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours and 345 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and various personal and unit awards.



USMC Maj. Nathan M. Miller

Opposing Solo



Major Nathan Miller is native of Lapeer, Michigan, and graduated from Lapeer West High School in 1991 as salutatorian of his class while lettering in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He attended the United States Air Force Academy where he competed in football and baseball and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology in 1995.

Miller was commissioned a Marine Corps Second Lieutenant through an inter-service transfer and reported to Quantico, Virginia, for The Basic School in June. Miller completed primary flight training in the T-34C Mentor at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and transferred to NAS Meridian, Mississippi, for intermediate and advanced flight training. While there, he flew the T-2C Buckeye and TA-4J Skyhawk, and was awarded Top Hook for carrier landing performance. He received his wings of gold in January 1999.

Miller transferred to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, where he joined VMFA-323, the “Death Rattlers.” Nate deployed twice aboard USS Constellation (CV 64) in March 2001 and in November 2002, flying combat missions in support of Operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom. While there, the “Death Rattlers” received the 2003 Robert M. Hanson Award as the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Fighter Attack Squadron of the Year.

Miller joined the Blue Angels in September of 2006. He has accumulated more than 1,900 flight hours and 294 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include the Individual Air Medal with combat “V,” three Strike/Flight Air Medals, a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat “V,” three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various personal and unit awards.

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