A 2009 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Severna Park native sat on his couch in Solomons, discussing his recent transition back to Maryland this March from service overseas as a weapon systems officer with the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force.
Marine Naval Flight Officer (NFO) Major Daniel L. Jewett flew 57 sorties as an exchange officer with the IX(B) Squadron, which, according to the RAF website, is a unit “specialized in dropping large bombs.”
The squadron executed Operation Shader, the RAF’s contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve. Daniel employed 11,594 pounds of ordnance to support coalition forces during targeted attacks on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
In May, the 33-year-old was named Marine NFO of the Year, also called the Robert Guy Robinson Award, by the Marine Corps Aviation Association. According to the awards ceremony program, Daniel’s performance was instrumental to mission success as he contributed “an aggressive mindset, tactical acumen and professional leadership; he greatly enhanced squadron lethality.”
Daniel said receiving the award was a testament to all the people who have trained him.
“I’m under no opinion that it reflects or suggests that I was the best person at what I do,” he said. “I was put in a unique situation where I was able to do an important job, did it well.”
He said that any of his peers would have done the same.
Daniel is the son of Severna Park residents Carol and retired Captain Charles “Bud” Jewett. His father, a former Naval flight officer on an A-6 Intruder, retired from the U.S. Navy after serving 30 years.
“Dan watched the things that I did … and a lot of little boys want to be like their dads,” Bud said. “He’s very conscientious, precise; very deliberate in what he does.”
Carol Jewett said when she read the accomplishments of her son’s time with the RAF, it took her breath away.
“I’m very, very proud of him, but sometimes you’re glad you don’t know it until it’s over,” she said.
For all of the trepidation his mom may feel, Daniel said all of his training and flying with some of the world’s best pilots in well-planned scenarios makes him feel relatively safe.
“They try to make us experts in what we do and make us ready for any situation that can occur,” he said.
While reflecting, Daniel listed the names of the aircraft he has learned to fly as a student this summer at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River. In addition to hundreds of flight hours in both the F/A-18D Hornet and Tornado GR4, he added flight time in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, a T-38 Talon and a T-6 Texan II to his resume. Aerospace engineers need seasoned aviators like Daniel to learn the variants of multiple aircraft and report back to them how the performance of each can be improved.
From the time he was a kid, Daniel dreamed of attending the Naval Academy. He invested many hours in studies and activities he thought would gain him acceptance, only to be denied out of high school. Disappointed but determined, he chose to attend Virginia Military Institute his freshman year.
“The only way you can ever assure you’re going to get the things you want, you have to be the best at something, and I wasn’t,” he said.
He focused on his academic performance at VMI and was accepted to the academy his sophomore year.
“I kind of made up my mind that was never going to happen to me again, and if it did, it wasn’t going to be because I didn’t try my hardest,” Daniel said.
He maintains a rigorous discipline during test pilot school by starting each day at 5:30am with a 3-mile run and is in class by 8:00am. The 11-month program includes Calculus, Differential Equations and Report Writing, classes he describes as “intense and condensed” versions of his academy classes. He gets home, tries to eat something healthy, studies and is in bed every night by 9:00pm.
After test pilot school, Daniel will go on to test aircraft, but he is not sure just where yet. A career in the space community may also be in his future sights. In 2015, he became a subject matter expert on space-related operations, and he aspires to become an astronaut, maybe even work for NASA. He grinned at the words coming out of his mouth and said, “That’s kind of shooting for the moon, and if you miss, maybe you’ll hit the stars.”