SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
More than 20 years ago, 1st Lt. Tomas Jaime, newly assigned weapon systems officer to the 334th Fighter Squadron as a student of the F-15E Basic Course, stepped into an F-15E Strike Eagle at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, for the first time. At the time, Jaime was focused on just passing the rigorous course and getting his Air Force career off to a good start.
Flash forward 20 years, Jaime, now the 335th Fighter Squadron director of operations, has reached a pinnacle that few people have the opportunity to accomplish in his Air Force career. With his flight on July 31, 2018, he eclipsed the rare 3,000 flying-hour milestone in the Strike Eagle.
The day may have seemed the exact same as it had for the previous sorties in his 17 year career, including 350 of which were in direct support of combat operations. However, there was an allure to this sortie that few in the Air Force has seen thus far.
“It means a lot to be in such rare company,” said Jaime. “To be able to celebrate with those who help push me every day is something I will never forget.”
According to Lt. Col. Isaac Bell, 335th FS commander, only 2 percent of pilots and weapon systems officers have met this feat in an F-15E.
“To put this tremendous achievement in perspective, more than 1,852 have graduated from F-15 Basic Course and only 38 Airmen have reached this milestone in this aircraft,” Bell said. “That says a lot about the character of dedication to his craft.”
Upon his return from his training mission, members of his squadron, family and friends, huddled around him in recognition of his rare achievement.
“Each member of the 335th FS and the F-15E community recognizes the hard work and selflessness it must have taken from both Jaime and his family to reach this level of flying hours,” Bell said. “We are proud to serve with him and look forward to pushing him to new heights in the future.”
With such a vast amount of experience, Jaime plans to continue accomplishing the mission and imparting wisdom on his newer aircrew members.
“It is my responsibility to pass on what I know to improve how we accomplish our mission” said Jaime. “I feel I owe that to those who took me under their wing and the maintainers who enabled me to reach this unique milestone in my career.”
In addition to his flying hours in the F-15E, Jaime also has over 700 hours in other aircraft including the T-39, EA-GB and F-18F.