When Justin Finley graduated from Shelbyville High School in 2009, he had his sights set on the Navy and made good on his choice. In December Finley was named plane captain of the year for his unit, the VFA 213 Blacklions Strike Fighter Squadron.
Finley doesn’t fly the planes, but does everything else to help keep them flying. As an AD3 plane captain, Finley performs technical maintenance on the Blacklions’ FA-18F Super Hornets—the Blacklions’ carrier-based fighter jets. His supervisors took notice of his work.
The award was given at the squadron Christmas party. “I didn’t know it would be me until the last minute. I was definitely surprised!” Finley remarked.
The Blacklions were established as VF-213 in 1955 and are one of few Navy squadrons to retain their original designation. In the movie “Top Gun”, the Blacklions planes were among those used in the filming with their distinctive logo on the side of the F-14D Tomcats.
Finley is currently training in Nevada and working on power plants (engines) and fuel cells. He has another eight months with VFA 213 which is stationed in Oceana, VA.
He has had one deployment to Afghanistan where they provided support for Operation Enduring Freedom and New Dawn aboard the USS George H.W. Bush in 2011.
Finley didn’t just get to do the fun jobs, though. “I have done all kind of things from working in the galley on the ship to driving a fuel truck—all kinds of things in between.”
“I get to come home twice a year: Christmas and in the summer. I hope to be back home in Shelbyville next month. I definitely miss the home town and hope I made everybody proud.”
Justin is the son of Kevin and Julie Finley of Shelbyville.