In 1986 Top Gun was released and along with cementing Tom Cruise’s status as a movie star, the movie wowed audiences with its thrilling real-life action. The movie spotlighted military aerial combat in a way that no movie ever had before. It’s no wonder that even over three decades later people were still hoping for a sequel, that eventually got the green light. And while we’ll all need to wait to see the actual movie, the U.S. Navy isn’t waiting to thank Tom Cruise, as well as franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer, for their contributions to Naval Aviation, as the two are now Honorary Naval Aviators.

In 1949 the U.S. Navy instituted the Honorary Naval Aviator Program as a way to recognize the contributions of those outside of Naval Aviation to the cause. The award had only been given out 34 times since then prior to the end of last week when Tom Cruise became recipient 35 and Jerry Bruckheimer became number 36. Among other things, the Honorary Naval Aviator citation awards both Cruise and Bruckheimer with the same Wings of Gold that are given to actual Naval Aviators, and they’re even allowed to wear the wings publicly.

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Top Gun: Maverick Star Tom Cruise Is Being Honored By Navy Ahead Of Its Release

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