John Taylor "J.T." Gregg '10 Teaches the Best of the Best Navy Pilots

John Taylor "J.T." Gregg '10 Teaches the Best of the Best Navy Pilots




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Lt. John Taylor “J.T.” Gregg ’10 has gotten to train with the best of the best Navy pilots. And now he gets to teach them.

After graduating from the rigorous U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, better known as TOPGUN, in August 2021, the weapons system officer was asked to stay on and train to become an instructor there. The “process,” as it’s called, consists of months of research and development of a specific mission set or capability of the F/A-18 Super Hornet and its weapon systems. Ultimately, he’ll be considered an expert on the subject and become a resource for the entire strike fighter community.

But the process doesn’t stop there. “Preparation to become a TOPGUN instructor never ends,” J.T. said. “As technologies advance, instructors must continue to learn and adapt to the ever-changing air-to-air environment. Understanding the present and future tactics is critical to ensure effective teaching of the future teachers of the fleet.”

J.T. came to TOPGUN, at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada, in March 2021 after earning an engineering degree at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, serving in the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, then doing a fleet tour at NAS Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

The TOPGUN course is 12 weeks of flight training. “The days are long, standards of performance are high, and students are evaluated on their knowledge, execution and character,” he said.

The pressure is immeasurable, he said, but it’s also pushed him to be his best self. “It is fulfilling. I wake up every day with a purpose. I enjoy flying, learning and teaching others. It is a privilege to get to do this job.”

J.T. is certain that St. Mary’s Ryken helped him get to this point in his career. The encouragement, resources and personal values that SMR instilled in him were crucial, he said. And while he says he had too many great teachers to choose a favorite, his favorite memory of SMR was sailing on Breton Bay.

At age 29, his future after TOPGUN is yet to be written. He still has a few years left in the Navy, and he’s leaving the door open for a wide range of possibilities after that. Maybe med school, maybe business school — “Something totally different,” he suggested. But “learning is always a priority, whether it is through a structured institution or not.”

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