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Kingsley Pilot crosses 2,000 hours in Eagle

Col. Wes “Pappy” French pins Lt. Col. David “Down” Unruh with a 2,000 hour patch immediately after he disembarked from an F-15 aircraft at Kingsley Field, where he crossed that threshold. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

Col. Wes “Pappy” French pins Lt. Col. David “Down” Unruh with a 2,000 hour patch immediately after he disembarked from an F-15 aircraft at Kingsley Field, where he crossed that threshold. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. --

Lt. Col. David "Down" Unruh joined a small cadre of pilots to reach 2,000 hours in an F-15 Eagle, Jan. 17 at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore. Unruh, an F-15 instructor pilot at the 173rd Fighter Wing crossed that threshold during a routine training mission.

"This milestone reminds me of just how transitory our time is in the military, said Unruh. "As I reflect on just how quickly these 2,000 hours came and went I think of all of the people who led and trained me, as well as all of the countless hours that many men and women put in to make sure everything worked properly."

He was quick to acknowledge and thank those that have helped him along in his career.

"I cannot fathom the weight of effort exerted to get me in the air effectively over and over again, and I'm humbled by the faithful service of so many individuals," he said.

Unruh noted that those who desire to reach such significant milestones must be tenacious in the pursuit of their goals. "I've seen people fall by the wayside because they became tired and stopped perusing the goal ahead of them--never give up, never quit," he added.

Unruh spent 11 years in the active duty Air Force before joining the Oregon Air National Guard in 2008. He has held many roles at Kingsley Field, to include chief of syllabus development, flight commander, chief of scheduling, chief of training, and currently the chief of advanced programs.

"I have been deployed above the Arctic Circle, as well as the Middle East and have taken off in the F-15 in blowing snow at minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit and blowing sand at 140 degrees Fahrenheit," said Unruh. "Whether freezing or roasting, the men and women of the Air Force have stood strong day and night, and I cannot thank them enough."

The 173rd Fighter Wing is one of two Oregon Air National Guard wings. The 173rd Fighter Wing is the sole U.S. Air Force F-15 schoolhouse in the Nation.