Sing: A standout athlete and naval aviator

Published 5:44 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2024

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Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of seven articles, each highlighting one of the 2023 inductees to the Franklin Community Wall of Excellence.

The Franklin Community Wall of Excellence gained eight new names via its 2023 class.

Those names included Jennifer Sing, Frank M. Rabil, Clyde Elwood Parker, David T. Lease, Carolyn and Waverly Lawrence, Travis W. Felts and Mona M. Sumblin.

The seventh annual Franklin Community Wall of Excellence Induction Dinner and Ceremony took place Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Cypress Cove Country Club.

As noted in the event’s program, through the vision of some local Franklin City Public Schools alumni and school personnel, the Franklin Community Wall of Excellence Inc. was established in 2016 as a program to honor former Franklin and Hayden high school students, administrators, teachers and staff who have excelled or distinguished themselves through personal and/or professional success, as well as to recognize those community members who have made significant contributions to the public schools in Franklin.

“The Wall” is located at Franklin High School, adjacent to the gymnasium, a Wall of Excellence news release stated. Names and photos of each inductee are displayed for generations of Franklin High School students and community members to see as they walk by on their way to class or an event at FHS.


Sing was inducted onto the Wall of Excellence under the category of Outstanding Athlete.

The printed program for the induction dinner and ceremony outlined a variety of Sing’s achievements. It first noted that she graduated as valedictorian of the Class of 2008 at Franklin High School.

While attending FHS, she lettered in tennis, cross country and wrestling, but she stood out in particular on the tennis court, where she lettered all four years and compiled more than 50 match wins, earning seven district titles and five regional titles across singles and doubles play.

Wall of Excellence Board of Directors Vice President Brian Hedgepeth, who introduced Sing at the induction ceremony, said, “She was undefeated during the regular season in 2007 and 2008.” 

The printed program noted that as a senior, Sing entered the state championship singles match with an undefeated record, falling in that match by only a narrow margin to finish as state runner-up. 

She was also part of the state runner-up doubles team that year.

Sing went on to attend Virginia Military Institute. In athletics at VMI, she participated in track and field and still holds the women’s indoor and outdoor pole-vaulting records there of 12 feet, 10 inches and 13 feet, 3 1/2 inches, respectively.

In academics at VMI, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering, with an emphasis in aeronautics, and a minor in math.

After graduating with honors in 2012, she commissioned with the U.S. Navy with the rank of lieutenant.

Hedgepeth said, “After completing basic flight training and advanced flight training, she was assigned to the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron HSM-77 Saberhawks, which flies the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and deployed to Japan where she spent time on the USS George Washington and the USS Ronald Reagan supercarriers and the USS Antietam and the USS Shiloh guided missile carriers.”

She served as squadron maintenance officer on the USS Shiloh and qualified as helicopter aircraft commander while deployed, Hedgepeth said.

The printed program noted that Sing earned a collection of accolades while serving as an instructor pilot at Whiting Field. She was named Instructor Pilot of the Month once, Instructor Pilot of the Quarter twice and Instructor Pilot of the Year in 2020.

Recently, Sing was assigned to the USS Nimitz where she was responsible for the carrier’s physical training program. She served as one of the assistant air operations officers and served on the COVID response team.

“Upon completion of her assignment aboard the USS Nimitz this month,” Hedgepeth said, “she’ll be promoted to lieutenant commander and reassigned to either San Diego or Jacksonville to requalify on the MH-60R. After that, back to the fleet as a section head for one of the MH-60R squads.

“This is one special young lady who served our community and our country,” Hedgepeth added. “She was unable to be here tonight because she was redeployed just in the last couple weeks.”

Wall of Excellence officials stated in the printed program, “The committee members of the Franklin Community Wall of Excellence would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to Jennifer for her service to this country, especially during these critical times. We also extend our sincere congratulations to Jennifer!”

Hedgepeth asked Sing’s mother, Maria Sing, to come forward and accept her daughter’s plaque that commemorated her induction onto the Wall of Excellence.

Maria Sing shared some remarks as she accepted the plaque.

“Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Joan Sing is currently somewhere in the Pacific Ocean on the Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier as a naval aviator,” Maria said. “She flies armed helicopters as part of our country’s defense system. Obviously she’s unable to be here.

“As her proud mom, I would like to extend her thanks for the honor that you’re bestowing on her this evening,” Maria added.

She went on to share “the big picture” of Jennifer’s accomplishments that she said were thanks in large part to the support and opportunities provided by the city of Franklin.

“And I can’t emphasize that enough,” Maria said. “The opportunities and the support that she received from here is a large part of why she is who she is.”

Maria said Franklin was a great place for two working parents to raise their children.

“There were multiple opportunities for Jen to achieve in many areas,” Maria said.

She noted that YMCA started Jennifer’s athletic career with gymnastics classes.

“Elementary and middle school brought opportunities for art, with the selection of her design for the city logo,” Maria said.

Jennifer also played baseball during this time.

“And she obtained several perfect SOL scores thanks to many hardworking teachers,” Maria said.

She noted that Jennifer had many successes at Franklin High School, and she participated in art shows at the Rawls Museum, receiving several ribbons for her efforts.

“The last support she received from Franklin came through Sol Rawls,” Maria said. “As many people know, he was adamantly opposed to the acceptance of women into VMI. After meeting Jen and talking to her after her first year there about her experiences at VMI, he was kind enough to tell the commandant that maybe having women at VMI was not a bad thing after all. He requested that they find scholarship money to support her remaining efforts there.

“So thanks to what the city of Franklin and many individuals here offered her and opportunities and support, she is a successful adult in this world,” Maria added. Speaking on behalf of herself and her husband, Calvin Sing, Maria said, “We’re very proud of her.”

She again thanked the Wall of Excellence for bestowing the honor of induction upon Jennifer.