March 7, 2018 (by SSgt. Divine Cox) - "Mach" received a "Double Down" congratulations from members of the 77th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron as he surpassed the 1,000 combat-hour milestone in the F-16 Fighting Falcon February 28, 2018 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.
"Mach" (center), 77th EFS F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilot, poses for a photo with members from the 77th EFS on February 28, 2018 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. "Mach" received a "Double Down" welcome from the "Gamblers" as he surpassed the 1,000 combat-hour milestone in the F-16 Fighting Falcon. [USAF photo by SSgt. Divine Cox]
He achieved the milestone during a mission in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel.
"I believe there are roughly six F-16 pilots under the rank of colonel that have 1,000 combat hours," said Lt. Col. James Buessing, 77th EFS commander. "The average F-16 pilot doesn't even reach the 1,000 hour milestone let alone 1,000 combat hours, so yes it's a huge deal that ‘Mach' has reached this milestone."
Most F-16 pilots do not go on three to four six month deployment, so reaching the 1,000 hour mark as a fighter pilot represents a significant career accomplishment. Even more so for "Mach" because all of his combat hours were flown with the 77th EFS and no other pilot has ever done that.
"It is a true testament to the support my family gives me while at home and abroad," said "Mach". "Without the love and support of my wife and kids, I wouldn't be able to reach this achievement. I am forever grateful to my wife for all her support and everything she does back home to allow me to serve my country."
"Mach" logged his first combat sortie in 2011 in support of Operation Unified Protector, protecting NATO
allied partners in Libya. Since then, he has "double downed" on two tours in Afghanistan and has compiled 177 combat sorties during his career.
"Mach" has been flying F-16s for more than 10 years.