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Airshow homecoming for visiting F-15 commander

Col. Patrick Doherty arrives at the 2011 Guardians of Freedom Airshow at Lincoln Air Park in Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 9, 2011. Doherty is commander of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. James Lieth/Released)

Col. Patrick Doherty arrives at the 2011 Guardians of Freedom Airshow at Lincoln Air Park in Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 9, 2011. Doherty is commander of the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. James Lieth/Released)

Lincoln, Neb. -- With the sound of fighter jets over head, the colonel's eyes followed the aircraft across the sky. Dressed in his Air Force green flight suit, Col. Pat Doherty, commander of the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., flashed a proud smile.
Doherty, a native of Bellevue, Neb., and graduate of Bellevue East High School, flew one of two F-15E Strike Eagles for a demonstration at the 2011 Guardians of Freedom airshow, Sept. 10, in Lincoln, Neb. The two-day show, which was co-sponsored by the Nebraska National Guard, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and the Lincoln Airport Authority, attracted more than 200,000 people, was designed to recognize the contributions of America's military while honoring those who were lost during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"This weekend was special for the entire country. What a way to showcase the importance of our military here on 9/11 weekend, and to be a part of it and bring Strike Eagles back in," said Doherty, who brought two of his unit's F-15E Strike Eagles to Lincoln to be part of the show's static displays of current and historic military aircraft.
Doherty said the trip to Lincoln was extra-special because of the fact that he had a chance to visit his mother who still lives in Bellevue, Neb., during his short weekend home. He said when he was a child he would attend air shows often. Coming from a military family, he said he caught the "flying bug" early in life. 
His late father retired as a senior master sergeant based out of Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Before retiring, he was a boom operator, radio operator and a tail gunner throughout his Air Force career.

Doherty said he had the opportunity to see all of the exciting and important missions his dad was involved in and decided he wanted to be a part of it. As a college student, he took private flying lessons and later he joined the Air Force.
Being the commander of a fighter wing, he said he keeps the upcoming generation of Airmen in mind.

"We are always thinking about serving our country, serving our communities, and engaging with the next generation that needs to pick up the torch and continue on," said Doherty. "That's a small part of this and we are very honored and privileged to play a small part."
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