>> Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Those who questioned my decision to include Top Gun in last year's Patterson School Fall Film Series must be scurrying for cover now:
A fighter pilot who headed the Navy in the Pacific and made a cameo appearance as a Tom Cruise foe in ''Top Gun'' has taken over as the top U.S. military commander in Asia and the Pacific.
Adm. Robert F. Willard assumed control of the U.S. Pacific Command in a Monday ceremony presided over by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who stopped in Hawaii en route to meetings in Japan and South Korea.
In the 1980s, Willard was the executive officer at the Navy Fighter Weapons School, also known as ''TOPGUN.''
Willard was a consultant and flight choreographer on the 1986 film ''Top Gun.'' He also portrayed a Soviet MiG-28 pilot who wore a black helmet and took on Cruise, who famously gave Willard's character ''the bird'' while flying upside-down above him.