KADENA AIR BASE, Japan — A Wisconsin Air National Guard pilot currently deployed to Kadena has just completed a milestone in his career, joining an elite group of just 250.
Lt. Col. Matthew C. McCunn — of the Madison, Wisconsin-based 115th Fighter Wing — completed a flight here taking him over a career total of 3,000 flight hours.
Upon landing, McCunn was surrounded by friends and family — including his sons Senior Airman Alex McCunn and Airman 1st Class Nathan McCunn, who are also deployed to Kadena with the 115th Fighter Wing — as he became soaked in water from the traditional hosing down for his accomplishment.
"In the fighter community, we accumulate flying hours at a fairly slow rate, and a little slower in the Guard than on active duty," McCunn explained, noting that he averages around 100 sorties per year and averages 1.3 hours per sortie. While flying careers can be cut short as a result of changing military assignments, McCunn has spent his entire career as an F-16 pilot.
"I had my first F-16 sortie in November 1992, and I have been flying ever since," he said. "Reaching 3,000 hours has been the culmination of 23 years of flying ... I feel very lucky to have been able to sustain a flying career for this long, and I still love flying the airplane."
McCunn, a traditional Guard member, is also a full-time first officer with American Airlines, flying the Boeing 767 internationally out of Chicago O'Hare.
He has an estimated 400 total hours conducted in combat, including several deployments to places like Turkey, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iraq and Djibouti giving him a lot of experience around the world.
"I have traveled the world, had a lot of amazing experiences and made a lot of great friends," McCunn said. "I have also had the support of an awesome family who endured moves, many missed holidays and numerous long deployments."
McCunn said deploying with family members is a great experience, but not a unique experience in the National Guard.
"In our unit alone, I can think of dozens of second-generation Guard members or siblings that have served together," McCunn said. "I believe it says a lot about the health and happiness of a unit when a good deal of the recruiting process comes from within the families of the unit."
He said his sons have always been interested in military service, and mark the third generation of service members in the McCunn family.
"This is the first major overseas deployment for both of them," he said. "They have both worked really hard to get where they are, and it is rewarding to see them flourish in their career fields."