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Lt. Col. Timothy Schepper of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., became the first B-1 pilot to achieve 5,000 flying hours in the bomber type, according to a base release. Schepper reached the milestone on July 15 during a 19-hour mission that originated in Southwest Asia and ended at Ellsworth, states the July 18 release. "It seems like it's been a long time coming and yet it seemed to happen fairly quickly from my career standpoint," said Schepper, who accrued those hours—1,300 of which were in combat—over a 22-year period. "This was just another mission and it just happened to get me to that 5,000-hour mark," he said. Dan Ruder, Boeing's B-1 advanced program manager, said this achievement was a huge milestone for the B-1 platform and "solidifies how the B-1 is still a critical element" to national security. The B-1 has been deployed in combat for eight consecutive years and has logged nearly 10,000 combat missions, according to Ruder. (Ellsworth report by A1C Hrair H. Palyan)