June 24, 2011 (by Maj. Pamela Carroll) - In 1985 Robert D. Whitehouse joined the Air Force as a cadet at the Air Force Academy because of patriotism and a call to public service, with the dream of becoming a pilot.
Lt.Col. Robert D. 'Sparky' Whitehouse, 332nd EOG deputy commander, taxi's after reaching his 3,000th flying hour in the F-16 on June 23rd, 2011. Colonel Whitehouse's achievement puts him in an elite group with only 214 other F-16 pilots who have made this accomplishment. [USAF photo by MSgt. Jennifer Seidl]
Not only did he become a pilot, but 25 years later, now Lt. Col. Robert D. "Sparky" Whitehouse
, reached 3,000 flying hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, June 23, 2011.
Colonel Whitehouse joins the elite group of 3,000 flying hour F-16 pilots which only consist of 214, as of May 16, 2011.
While taxiing in Brig. Gen. Kurt Neubauer, 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, and Colonel Whitehouse exchanged a "To the Colors" salute, which is unique to those who have served in the 80th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea.
Upon landing he received congratulations from his friends and fellow Airmen. Then he received a traditional hosing down for his accomplishment.
Colonel Whitehouse is the 332nd Expeditionary Operations Group deputy commander at JBB. He assists execution of senior airfield authority at JBB and oversees airlift support activities and enables flow of more than 1.5 million passengers and 950,000 tons of cargo in and around the Iraq.
Out of 3,000 flying hours, Colonel Whitehouse has more than 250 hours flying in combat. He has deployed several times but this is his first deployment in Iraq. Other deployments include Operations Provide Comfort and Northern Watch from 1992 to 1993 and Operations Deny Flight and Deliberate Force from 1994 to 1997.
Colonel Whitehouse is a deployed Air Reserve Technician assigned to the 69th Fighter Squadron as the 56th Operations Group deputy commander at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
"My most memorable flight is my first combat sortie where I actually employed ordinance," he said. "But each flight in the F-16 is unique in its own way."
After 11 years of active duty he joined the Reserves. In addition to flying the F-16, he flew the A-320 airbus for United Air Lines.
In August, Colonel Whitehouse will return home to Arizona with his wife and three children.