Missouri will belatedly honor our nation’s veterans by wearing TOPGUN-themed helmets during this Saturday’s game against Florida (12 p.m. on CBS).
Not to be confused with the 1986 movie Top Gun, the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School — commonly referred to as TOPGUN — was established in 1969 to overcome inadequate aircrew training during the Vietnam War.
At the time, the Navy lost one aircraft for every three enemy aircraft shot down. Aircrew selected for TOPGUN training were specifically chosen from combat units in Vietnam.Upon graduating, they returned to combat duty and trained their fellow aviators with the tactics learned during their time at TOPGUN. The increase in performance was dramatic towards the end of the Vietnam War, as Navy aircrew shot down 13 enemy aircraft for every one friendly aircraft lost.
Those who graduated the TOPGUN program received a patch, which has been applied to the back of Missouri’s alternate white helmet. The side of the helmet, meanwhile, prominently displays a school-colored national insignia, which can be found on every U.S. military aircraft.
Each player’s home area code is included above their facemask to replicate the numbering system of all U.S. Navy ships — 573 is the area code for Columbia, Missouri.
The Tigers will complete the look with their standard black home jerseys and white pants. No word on if the Naval Academy will be wearing Missouri-themed helmets against Notre Dame this weekend in reciprocity, though.
Check out more photos of the Tigers’ TOPGUN helmets below:
Photos via @MizzouFootball on Twitter