Major Mark 'Stitch' Miller
Maj. Miller graduated from the USAF Academy in 1982 and subsequently attended Euro NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB where he graduated in 1983 as a distinguished graduate. He then completed F-16 training again as distinguished graduate plus being the Air- to Air Top Gun at Mac Dill AFB. In 1984 Maj. Miller was assigned to the 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Torrejon AB, Spain where he flew from 1984 till 1988. There he received the Gabreski Award for being the top Air- to Air student in the USAF. After graduating from the USAF Fighter Weapons School in 1988, Maj. Miller was assigned to Hill AFB where he served as weapons and tactics officer, instructor pilot and flight commander.
During Desert Storm, Maj. Miller flew 34 combat missions over Iraq. In 1992, he became instructor pilot at the USAF Weapons School and spent the next two years instructing future weapons officers. In 1994 Maj. Miller became the Senior Combat Operations Liasion Officer to the National Security Agency. Since June of 1996 Maj. Miller is student at the Air Command Staff College at Maxwell AFB.
F-16.net: How do you feel about being the first USAF active duty F-16 pilot to accumulate 3000 flying hours?
Maj. Miller: It's a great honor to be the first USAF active duty F-16 pilot to reach 3000 hours because there have been so many great pilots that I have flown with that have not reached this milestone. That fact has nothing to do with their ability or willingness to fly at an increased level. Much of my good fortune has to do with being in the right place at the right time. It is very appropriate that Jean-Marie Toussaint reached this level first as he is an outstanding pilot. I would like to meet him someday.
F-16.net: How did you accumulate so many hours that fast?
Maj. Miller: Again, much of my good fortune was based on being in the right place at the right time. My first assignment in the Viper was to Torrejon AB, Spain. The weather there was very good and our wing was the only fighter wing in the southern region of Europe. My quick upgrade to flight lead and instructor also helped.
F-16.net: What was your most memorable flight in the Viper?
Maj. Miller: My most memorable flight was on the first night of Desert Storm. My wingman was the youngest pilot in our wing and only eight of us flew on that night. My wingman and I had flown as a "formed element" for a while and I told my squadron commander that he deserved to fly that night instead of being replaced by someone more senior. The weather was poor, we were all very nervous, yet, everyone in the flight did a great job. Jim "Woody" Palmer proved to be one of my heroes as a wingman, I have absolutely no doubt that he would have died for me and I know that I would have died for him. Fortunately, we never had to go there!
394: What squadron you liked most and why?
Maj. Miller: The 612 TFS out of Torrejon AB, Spain was my favorite squadron. That was my first squadron and I've been told that your first fighter squadron is like your first love. I can attest to that fact. The group of Viper pilots that flew in the 612 TFS from 84-88 will probably never be gathered together again.
F-16.net: Stitch, please tell the readers what your best-liked Viper was and may be you can give us its tail number.
Maj. Miller: Serial #82982 was my favorite Viper. This jet combined my graduation year from the USAF Academy and the first aircraft that I had my name put on.
F-16.net: Have you flown any other jets besides the F-16?
Maj. Miller: The only other aircraft that I have flown were in pilot training and in my private life. I have had the opportunity to fly in the F-15, F-18, and F-14. Nothing equals the VIPER!
F-16.net: Stitch, you as a Fighter Weapons School graduate, what would you say makes a graduate so worthful for the Air Force?
Maj. Miller: FWS graduates are the backbone of the USAF. The extensive training and education FWS pilots experience is second to none in the world!
F-16.net: What is the story behind your tactical callsign "Stitch"? We have some readers that are interested in the stories behind those callsigns.
Maj. Miller: My callsign came from the Gulf War. I experienced a non-flying injury that should have grounded me for a while. I flew two days later with a "little discomfort." I merely changed my flight suit after landing, prior to the debrief, due to the bloodstains. Enough said.
F-16.net: Stitch, what can you tell our younger web visitors that want to become future Air Force pilots like you?
Maj. Miller: Being a Viper pilot is the best job in the world! Requirements for the privelege include being a college graduate, having a good attitude, good athletic ability, and most importantly, the drive to Fly, Fight, and Win!
F-16.net: Thank you for this interview!
Maj. Miller: CHEERS!
Follow on interview:
F-16.net: What did your time in the Gulf War teach you?
Maj. Miller: I learned a great deal during the Gulf war. One of the most important things that I learned was the value of the hard training that we did during peacetime. The training and meticulous scrutinization of our performance each day made us better pilots and much more prepared to handle the situations we encountered in combat.
F-16.net: How would you compare flying in the states to flying in Europe?
Maj. Miller: Flying in Europe was outstanding for me when I was a young F-16 pilot in the '80's. I had the opportunity to train much more realistically than my counterparts in the US. Since then, we have drawn our forces down and closed many overseas bases. The countries that we still fly in overseas have also reduced the latitude of our current forces to train. This has resulted in a decrease in the training benefits for most our overseas units. Currently there are better opportunities in the US for realistic training. I was lucky when I was in Europe and would not trade my experiences for anything.
F-16.net: Do you find your job like a "job" or like a new challenge everyday?
Maj. Miller: I would never consider flying the F-16 "a job." It is always a challenge and I love it. In my opinion, when a fighter pilot thinks that he can not learn something new, he has made a critical judgment error and should find a new profession. I try to fly every mission as if it were my first and absorb everything I can. I think that attitude is the difference between a good pilot and a great one. I'm not saying that I am a great pilot, but, I'll never be one if I stop learning!
F-16.net: What aircraft (as an opponent in a dogfight) is the toughest nut to crack?
Maj. Miller: It's tough to pick any one aircraft as the toughest opponent. A "mediocre" aircraft flown by a "great" pilot will normally defeat a "great" aircraft flown by a "mediocre" pilot. I would have to say that both the F-18 and the F-15 are very tough aircraft to fly against when flown by a pilot that knows how to handle the jet. I have never flown personally against any of the former Soviet aircraft, however, I have spoken with folks who have and I think the Hornet and Eagle still would make a tougher opponent.
F-16.net: How hard is it to get used to the G-forces and is it enjoyable?
Maj. Miller: Pulling G's is something that your body has to get used to. Some people adjust easier than others. Some actually cannot adjust and either wash out of pilot training or elect to fly an aircraft that does not pull G's. I did not have too much trouble adjusting. Physical conditioning helps, but, does not replace the actual experience. As far as whether or not it is enjoyable pulling G's, it depends on what I am doing at the time. If I am "gunning" an opponent - then it is enjoyable. If I am breaking for a missile heading my way - it's not nearly as much fun. I'm sure you can relate to that. The actual experience is physically demanding though.
Once again I want to commend you on your outstanding web page. I will be moving on this summer to Shaw AFB and am looking forward to it greatly. Thanks again and CHECK SIX!!
F-16.net: Thank You!
- Maj. Miller was interviewed online by Martin Agüera and Lieven Dewitte -
Maj. Mark Miller died on November 14th, 2003, in Melbourne, Fl.
We would like to extend our deepest condoleances to Maj. Miller's family, friends, and colleagues. We are grateful that we've had the chance to interview Maj. Miller and are proud to keep his memory alive.
The F-16.net team