Tom Cruise and Jerry Bruckheimer became the 35th and 36th Honorary Naval Aviators for their "profound positive impact on recruiting for Naval Aviation"

By Alexia Fernandez
October 15, 2020 04:58 PM
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Jerry Bruckheimer and Tom Cruise
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Tom Cruise and producer Jerry Bruckheimer became Honorary Naval Aviators for “significantly” supporting the U.S. Navy.

Cruise became the 35th Honorary Naval Aviator while Bruckheimer became the 36th in a brief ceremony held at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on Sept. 24.

The ceremony occurred before a screening of their upcoming film Top Gun: Maverick, which is scheduled for release on July 2, 2021.

Their designations authorize Cruise and Bruckheimer to wear the Navy’s “wings of gold,” what a naval aviator would wear, and both are entitled to the honors, courtesies and privileges afforded to Naval Aviators.

Tom Cruise, DeWolfe Miller III and Jerry Bruckheimer
Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

“In the history of motion pictures, there is not a more iconic aviation movie than the 1986 Paramount Pictures film Top Gun. Its characters, dialogue, and imagery are ingrained in the minds of an entire generation of Americans,” the citation for the award stated in a release by the Naval Air Forces obtained by PEOPLE.

“The movie captured the hearts of millions, making a profound positive impact on recruiting for Naval Aviation” and “significantly promoted and supported Naval Aviation and put aircraft carriers and naval aircraft into popular culture,” the citation continued.

Cruise and Bruckheimer did everything possible to “ensure the Top Gun franchise is as authentic as possible, staying true to the unparalleled tactical excellence of the Navy Fighter Weapons School, the ethos of Naval Aviation, and the fighting spirit of the men and women of the world’s greatest Navy,” the citation added.

DeWolfe Miller III, Jerry Bruckheimer and Kenneth Whitesell
Alex J. Berliner/ABImages

They are the first people to receive the honor in two years, and they’re among good company. Previous recipients have been Bob Hope, who was bestowed the distinction in 1986, Jim Neighbors in 2010 and Susan Ford Bales in 2016.

Cruise is set to reprise his role as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in the upcoming sequel to his iconic 1986 film. Bruckheimer produced both films, with Top Gun earning more than $350 million at the worldwide box office at the time of release.

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