Lt. Col. Gary L. Peppers retired from Air Force active duty May 6, 2013, at Creech AFB, Nev. He had retired originally in February 2000 but was recalled to active duty in 2009.
Assigned to the 15th Reconnais-sance Squadron, he served as an MQ-1B Predator pilot and operations supervisor for the unit's 24/7 operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations in southwest Asia. In 2011, Lt. Col.
Peppers deployed to NAS Sigonella in Sicily as commander of 324th Expeditionary Reconnais-sance Squadron, flying armed Predators in Operation Unified Protector, the NATO-based campaign to overthrow Gaddafi's government in Libya.
His 30 years of active service began with his enlistment in the Army in September 1971. He rose to the rank of E-5 as a helicopter crew chief in 1972 and later became a warrant officer pilot in the UH-1 and OH-58.
Commissioned a lieutenant in the Air Force in 1978, Lt. Col. Peppers flew the F-15 Eagle, the OV-10 Bronco and the T-38 Talon over the next 21 years.
He retires with over 5,000 hours in military aircraft, including 4,000 hours in combat-coded positions and 620 combat hours.
Among his awards are Tactical Air Command's "TAC Aircrew of Distinction" and Flying Safety Magazine's "Well Done" awards in 1983, and the Army Aviation Association's "Broken Wing Award" in 1975.
He and his wife, Carol, look forward to returning to Cape Coral, their home since 2002, by the end of May.