06/05/09 — Vice commander takes his final flight

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Vice commander takes his final flight

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 5, 2009 1:46 PM

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Col. Dan Debree smiles at his son, Jack, as he is sprayed down after his final flight as 4th Fighter Wing vice wing commander at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Thursday afternoon.

Jack DeBree wore a mischievous grin as he waited for his father, Dan, to make his way out of one of the F-15Es that landed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Thursday.

At 7 years old, he might not quite understand what retirement means -- that the colonel had just taken his final Strike Eagle flight; that next week, he would relinquish his post as 4th Fighter Wing vice commander.

But that little boy did know what would happen when his hero descended from that jet.

He was going to get wet -- compliments of his only son.

A high-power spray down from Jack and a kiss from his wife, Diana, made it official.

DeBree is ready to move out of the active duty life, after decades of service during peacetime and war.

The colonel remembers watching Operation Desert Storm unfold from the back seat of a fighter jet.

And in 2005, he was among those air crew flying security during the first free elections Iraq had seen in decades.

He has witnessed history.

But now, it is someone else's time.

Col. Patrick Doherty, a command pilot and former commander of the 4th's 334th and 335th fighter squadrons, is set to take the vice commander post this fall.

He currently serves as deputy director of Combined Air and Space Operations Center, Al Udeid AB, Qatar, where he provides operational command and control for coalition and joint air and space operations across USCENTCOM's area of responsibility, including close air support, time sensitive targeting, electronic warfare, airlift, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, refueling, combat search and rescue, air defense, and airspace control in support of Multi-National Force-Iraq, Inter-national Security Assistance Force, United States Forces-Afghanistan, and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

The colonel's operational experience includes Oper-ation Provide Comfort, Northern Watch, Southern Watch, Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom.

And among his major awards and decorations are: Distinguished Flying Cross with "V" Device; Bronze Star; Defense Meritorious Service Medal; Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Air Medal with one silver leaf cluster; Aerial Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters; Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Air Force Combat Action Medal; Combat Readiness Medal with three oak leaf clusters; Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terror-ism Service Medal; Korean Defense Service Medal; and Armed Forces Service Medal.