MULLINS, S.C. – More than 25 Palmetto Middle School students participating in the Distinguished Gentlemen initiative traveled on a field trip to Beaufort for the Marine Corps Air Station Airshow on April 27.

Lead advisor Eric Troy said the visit to the air show was to allow the students to gain exposure to opportunities they may not otherwise be exposed to.

“The air show was amazing with so much to do and see,” he said. The highlight of the trip was the one-on-one interaction with F-22 pilot Major Paul "Loco" Lopez II after his incredible performance.”

Lopez is the United States Air Force F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team commander and pilot stationed at Joint. He leads the 18 member F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team and assigned to the 1st Operations Group within the 1st Fighter Wing.

The Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort hosts thousands showcasing naval aviation at its best with a demonstration by the United States Naval Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels.

Chaperones for the trip were Tarus Gilchrist, Jimmy Pee, Daniel Weeks, James Stitt and Troy.

Students also got the chance to view an assortment of displays, exhibits, museums and military equipment.

Distinguished Gentlemen is middle-school aged brotherhood designed to increase academic, behavioral, and social capacities through exposure to new experiences, mentoring, community service, and scholarship.

More than 25 students are chosen based on their grades, behavior, weekly meeting attendance, community service participation, and weekly dress-ups to attend the DG Leadership Retreat. Past retreats included a three-day camping trip to Myrtle Beach and tour of Charleston.

Born in Atlantic City; raised in Mullins. Graduated from SC State University, home of the mighty Bulldogs. Editor of the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise. Loves spending free time with his daughter. Huge sports fan.