The Tailhook Educational Foundation

2017 Scholarships

Tailhook Educational Foundation awardee of the USS MIDWAY (CV-41) FOUNDATION FREEDOM ISN'T FREE  SCHOLARSHIP - April Gahafer


Sponsored by the USS Midway Foundation

This scholarship is sponsored by the USS Midway Museum and the Midway Foundation to honor the legacy of the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. Midway’s 47-year service to the United States Navy, as well as her participation in significant humanitarian relief missions in the western Pacific, are testaments to her commitment to preserving and protecting freedom on behalf of current and future generations.

April Gahafer

Louisville, Kentucky

• University of Kentucky

Tailhook Educational Foundation awardee of the USS ORISKANY (CV-34) SCHOLARSHIP - Brendan Switts


Sponsored by the generous donations from Hook 2007 Reunion Attendees and The Gold Wings Foundation

Sponsored by generous donations from Hook 2007 Attendees and The Gold Wings Foundation Nicknamed “Mighty O”, and occasionally referred to as the“O-boat, USS.”, USS Oriskany was one of the few Essex-class aircraft carriers completed after WW II for the United States Navy. The ship was named for the Battle of Oriskany during the Revolutionary War. Originally designed as a “long-hulled” Essex-class ship (considered by authorities to be a separate class, the Ticonderoga class), she eventually was commissioned in 1950 after conversion to an updated design called SCB-27 (“27-Charlie”), which became the template for modernizing 14 other Essex-class ships. Oriskany was the final Essex-class ship completed. She operated primarily in the Pacific into the 1970s, earning 2 battle stars for service in the Korean War, and 5 for service in the Vietnam War. In 1966 one of the worst shipboard fires since World War II broke out on Oriskany when a magnesium flare was accidentally ignited; 44 men died in the fire. Decommissioned in 1976, she was sold in 1995, but was repossessed in 1997. In 2004 it was decided to sink her as an artificial reef off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. In May 2006, she was finally sunk settling in an upright position at a depth accessible to recreational divers. Oriskany has been featured in films such as ’Men of the Fighting Lady‚ and ’The Bridges at Toko-Ri‚ from 1954 and ’What Dreams May Come‚ (1998).

Brendan Switts

Chesapeake, Virginia

• Accepted to Georgetown University

Tailhook Educational Foundation awardee of the USS CONSTELLATION (CV-64) SCHOLARSHIP - Evan Morgan


Sponsored by the Tailhook Educational Foundation

Like her famous namesakes, USS Constellation (CV-64) has a proud and distinguished record. “Connie”, as her crew affectionately called her, served 40 years sailing into harm's way from Yankee Station off the coast of Vietnam to the turbulent waters of the Arabian Gulf. Connie, also known as “America’s Flagship ”, is the only naval vessel ever authorized to display red, white, and blue designation numbers. One example of Connie’s distinguished Combat service was off the coast of Vietnam with CVW-9 aboard in 1972. On 19 January, VF-96 F-4 Phantom crew Lieutenant Randall H. “Duke ” Cunningham and Lieutenant (junior grade) William P. Driscoll scored a kill against a MiG-21, the first for a Navy aircraft since Connie's VF-142 kill on 28 March 1970. On 8 May, Cunningham and Driscoll scored against another MiG-17. Then on 10 May, Cunningham and Driscoll downed 3 MiG-17s, becoming the first aces of the Vietnam War. Three more MiG-17s were downed by 2 other VF-96 crews, two by Lieutenant Michael J. Connelly and Lieutenant Thomas J. Blonski and 1 by Lieutenant Steven C. Shoemaker and Lieutenant (junior grade) Keith V. Crenshaw. Adding to the score, VF-92 aircrew Lieutenant Curt Dose and Lieutenant Commander James McDevitt shot down a MiG-21. All told, Constellation fliers shot down 7 MiGs on 10 May. The 9 month deployment ended on 01 July, the carrier having spent 154 days off Vietnam. The thousands of Sailors serving aboard ship's named Constellation have written a proud, illustrious, and stellar history as they protected and defended freedom for both America and other nations around the world.

Evan Morgan

San Clemente, California

• Accepted to Dartmouth College

Tailhook Educational Foundation awardee of the Werner L. Frank Scholarship - Lucas Copsey

Werner L. Frank Scholarship

Sponsored by Dan Frank and Family

This scholarship honors Werner L. Frank, an immigrant, Army veteran, and software entrepreneur who defined what it means to live the American dream. His vision and contributions to our Nation were made possible because of our Nation's commitment to our military strength.

Lucas Copsey

Humble, Texas

• Lone Star College

Tailhook Educational Foundation awardee of the USS AMERICA (CV-66) SCHOLARSHIP - Rachel Kling


Sponsored by the Tailhook Educational Foundation

The USS America coat-of-arms (COA) of has its origin in heraldry. Its theme is Revolutionary War based and honors the 1st USS America’s intended captain and the father of the United States Navy, John Paul Jones. Commissioned in 1965, USS America (CVA/CV-66) was the last of 3 Kitty Hawk-class supercarriers built for the US Navy. America achieved early fame in November 1969 when U2R Sea trial tests were conducted by Lockheed and CIA test pilots. After undergoing abbreviated carrier training, the pilots executed a series of takeoffs, landings and other carrier-based operations which proved successful. Early combat tours included the Middle East, the Six-day war, and the attack on USS Liberty in the late sixties. From 1969-1972, America made 3 deployments supporting Vietnam combat operations receiving 5 battle stars. Returning the Atlantic and the “Med” for the remainder of her celebrated career, from 1973 - 1986 she responded to crises in Lebanon, Libya and launched sorties supporting Operation El Dorado Canyon. In 1991, she joined USS Saratoga and USS John F. Kennedy in Battle Force Red Sea first supporting Operation Desert Shield then launching strikes into Iraq and Kuwait supporting Operation Desert Storm. She next transited to the Arabian Gulf to join USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Midway in Battle Force Zulu and continue combat operations into Iraq for the duration of the First Gulf War. From 1992- 1996, she closed out her 31 year distinguished career by again steaming into harm’s way supporting operations Southern Watch, Deny Flight and Deliberate Force.

Rachel Kling

Pace, Florida

• University of Florida

Tailhook Educational Foundation awardee of the TEST & EVAL SCHOLARSHIP - Alexandra Filan


Sponsored by 2014 reunion and the

Alexandra Filan

Milton, Georgia

• Accepted to Brown University

Tailhook Educational Foundation awardee of the LCDR HARRY AND STACY SKRIM <br>DEFYING THE ODDS SCHOLARSHIP - Katie Ann Miller


Sponsored by Harry and Stacy Skirm

Harry began in Naval Aviation in 1976 after graduating from the University of South Carolina with a degree in mathematics. He served with the VA-93 Ravens, flying the A-7 Corsair II on board USS Midway (CV-41) and later with VX-5, China Lake, California, where we met his wife and co-sponsor, Stacy, as a school teach and advocate for higher education. Believing Naval Aviation offers unique opportunities, this 'Defying the Odds' scholarship is dedicated to female college students pursuing a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) education who endeavor to have a career in aviation.

Katie Ann Miller

Roswell, Georgia

• Accepted to United States Naval Academy

Tailhook Educational Foundation awardee of the MR. ANDREW “BAGHDAD” BAHJAT SCHOLARSHIP - Camryn Sharratt


Sponsored by the Family and Friends

This award is made in the name of Andrew “Baghdad” Bahjat”, a career civil servant, Naval and British historian and Naval Aviation enthusiast. He served as the Adversary Requirements Officer for the Chief of Naval Operations where he was instrumental in bringing F-16’s to Fallon, NV and Strategic Planner for the Navy International Program Office where he helped Australia acquire the EA-18 Growler. He authored “Chronology of the Cold War at Sea, 1945-1991”. This scholarship is awarded in memory of his passion, love, and unyielding support of Naval Aviation.

Camryn Sharratt

Savage, Minnesota

• Accepted to Hastings College