John Willoughby, a distinguished airline pilot and highly-decorated retired Navy Officer is challenging incumbent Progressive Democrat Mazie Hirono for the 2nd Congressional District seat in the 2010 General Election. John is a proponent of lower taxes, smaller government, and putting an end to an era of reckless government deficit spending. John is not a career politician, but rather a citizen seeking public office. He believes Hawaii families are ready for a Representative who is driven by what is right, guided by the Constitution, committed to unconditional Congressional accountability, and loyal to the People of Hawaii.
John was born on September 23, 1958 in Kansas City, Missouri. His mother Verna was a former “Navy Wave,” homemaker and mother of six. His father Bud was a Korean War era Marine. They met and were married while both were stationed in Hawaii in the early 1950’s. They returned to Missouri where Bud worked his way through the ranks of the Kansas City Police Department. He then served as Chief of Police of the Pueblo, Colorado and Salt Lake City, Utah Police Departments, and was heavily involved in national law enforcement until his passing in 2004. John’s parents stressed public service, personal and financial responsibility, and accountability.
After spending his elementary and junior high school years in Kansas City, John’s family moved to Colorado where he graduated from Pueblo East High School in 1976. John then enlisted in the Navy. Upon completion of his initial training, he was designated a Navy Aircrewman on the P-3 Orion and assigned to Patrol Squadron Nineteen at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California. His squadron deployed at the height of the Cold War to Okinawa, Northern Japan, and twice to the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.
When he completed his four-year enlistment, John returned to Salt Lake City where he worked his way through college graduating in 1985 from the University of Utah with a Bachelors Degree in Organization Communications. He also participated in a study abroad program at Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany. At the University of Utah, John affiliated with Sigma Chi Fraternity and became a lifetime member of the University of Utah Alumni Association and a “Life Loyal Sig.”
Upon graduating college, John was recruited by a national grocery store chain to serve as an Assistant to the Vice-President of Human Resources. It was there he realized his true passion was to continue serving his country in the Armed Forces. He applied and was admitted to Navy Aviation Officer Candidate School where he was honored as a Distinguished Navy Graduate earning a regular commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy. He attended flight school in Pensacola, Florida and Corpus Christi, Texas earning his aircraft carrier landing qualification and “Wings of Gold” in 1988.
John was assigned to Patrol Squadron Twenty-Two at Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii where he received his Patrol Plane Mission Commander designation. There he deployed to the Philippines, Okinawa, and Japan. While stationed in Hawaii, he met and married the former Yong Hui Pak, a Hawaii resident and naturalized U.S. citizen born in South Korea. Before leaving Hawaii, their first son Joshua was born at Tripler Army Medical Center. John was then assigned as a flight instructor at Fleet Replacement Training Squadron Thirty-One, Moffett Field, California. He later returned to Hawaii where he was assigned to the Fleet Special Projects Patrol Unit Two, a unit assigned by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff to covert special operations worldwide. Later John received orders to the U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan as the Air Operations Officer. During his tour in Japan, his second son Jeremy was born.
John left active duty in 1998 and entered the Navy Reserve where he was assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron Fifty-One at Kaneohe, Hawaii, then later the NATO Supreme Allied Command--Transformation, and finally Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Upon moving back to Hawaii, John and Yong Hui adopted a twelve-year old South Korean girl named Su Jin.
John retired from the Navy Reserve as a Lieutenant Commander in 2006. While in the Navy and Navy Reserve, John qualified as a Plane Commander on six different aircraft. He deployed to and operated in dozens of countries in the south, western, and northern Pacific, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North, Central, and South Americas, as well as India, Australia, and Greenland. John was awarded two Air Medals for combat missions in support of United Nations Operations in Somalia for his role in real life battles that became the inspiration for the book and motion picture “Black Hawk Down,” two Navy Commendation Medals, a Navy Achievement Medal and several other medals, decorations, and commendations. He is also a lifetime member of the Association of the United States Navy and American Legion.
In 1998 John was employed by United Airlines as a commercial airline pilot based at San Francisco International Airport. During his twelve years at United, John has flown over 7000 hours both domestically and internationally on the DC-10, Boeing 777, 767, and 757, and the Airbus 319 and 320 commercial aircraft. In 2001 John lost several friends and co-workers on United and American Airlines airplanes involved in the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks and in the attack on the Maritime Patrol section of the Pentagon. United Airlines later sought Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection and John was furloughed from 2004-2005. He rejoined United in 2005 where he has been since. At United, John is a member of the Air Line Pilots Association, an international labor union.
After spending six years in Salt Lake City caring for his ill parents, John and Yong Hui moved back to Hawaii in 2006. They and their two sons live in Honolulu where their sons attend public school--Josh at Moanalua High School, and Jeremy at Moanalua Middle School. Their daughter Su Jin is now grown and lives on the Mainland. John and Yong Hui celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary in April.