05/29/05 — Lt. Col. sets F-15E record

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Lt. Col. sets F-15E record

By Turner Walston
Published in News on May 29, 2005 2:02 AM

Serving his country has made Lt. Col. Mark Mouw a record-setter.

The former commander of the 335th Fighter Squadron just passed his 4,000th flight hour in an F-15E Strike Eagle earlier this month. He is the only known pilot with 4,000 hours in the F-15E.

Mouw said he hit his 3,000th hour just three years ago, and was surprised how quickly he reached 4,000.

"It never was a goal," Mouw said. "I didn't see it as within reach until we deployed last summer for OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom). And then the deployment got extended.

"Because the sorties over there are longer, I get more flight time while I'm over there. So really I started going, 'You know, I might be able to make this.' It really started to look like it was an opportunity."

Superstitious, Mouw said he tried not to concentrate on the milestone.

"I didn't focus on it too much because I knew that something would happen," he said. "I would get sick, I would break a toe or something silly, and I wouldn't make it."

Mouw has worked at Seymour Johnson for about 16 years, on and off, which, he said, is "an exceptional number of years. For us, really this is home."

He thanked his maintenance crews "for many years and thousands of hours." Mouw said the crews probably prepare 20 hours on the ground for every hour of flight time.

A 1984 graduate of the Air Force Academy, Mouw began his pilot training in Florida.

"The initial airplane I flew was the F-4," he said. "I flew them for a couple of years and the F-15 E came around, so I switched over early to the F-15 E, and actually flew with the Rockets initially, with the 336th."

Later, he joined the 335th with Lt. Col. Steve Pingle.

"When Desert Shield kicked off in 1990, I actually was called back to the Rockets and deployed with them." Mouw said he returned about six weeks later to prepare the 335th Chiefs to deploy. He was deployed with the 335th to Desert Storm.

About a year and a half following his return to the United States, Mouw was sent to Luke AFB in Arizona as part of a field training unit. The unit was transferred to Seymour Johnson, so Mouw returned to join the 333rd.

"I've flown my whole career except for the year I was in Saudi Arabia," Mouw said. "That is unusual. I knew that I had the opportunity to get a lot of hours."

Last week, Mouw relinquished his command of the 335th Chiefs Fighter Squadron. He had held the position since July 2003.

"All commands are temporary. I saw it as a highlight," he said of the change of command. "I've been in that squadron a long time. I knew someday it would come."

This summer, Mouw will begin work with 5th AF Operations at Yokota Air Base, Japan. The aircraft there are F-15 C, McDonnell-Douglas designs and Boeing airframes, like the F-15 E at Seymour. "They've always done me well," he said of the aircraft. "I've had good luck with the jets, and they've always brought me back."

His wife, Pauline, and daughter, Alexandra, 14, will move with him. Oldest daughter Danielle, 17, will begin her freshman year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall.

"We're looking forward to it," Mouw said. "We plan to wander the Pacific Rim. I may even get to fly again."